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■■■ "■"Ill 

AH 4VLD A 



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SERMONS 
BY WORLD 



Harvard Depository 
Brittle Book 



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l-ibrars of tJje .©ibinitg ScJjool 




BOUGHT WITH MONEY 



THE SOCIETY 



FOR PROMOTING 



THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION 



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u 



Modem Sermons by WorU 
SchoUrs 

VOLUME Yn 
MOOREHEAD TO PORTER 



Modern Sermons 

BY ^ 

World Scholars 



['I I 



edited bv 
Robert Scott and William C Stiles 

Editors of 7 he Ho mile He Review 

introduction by 
Newell Dwight Hillis 

Pastor of Plymouth Church, Urooklyn 



IN TEN VOLUMES 
VOLUME VII— MOOREHEAD TO PORTER 



i I 



FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY 

NEW YORK AND LONCK3M 



JAN 4' 1910 



COPYRIOHT, 1909, BY 

FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY 
Printed in the Ignited States of America 




CONTENTS 



VOLUME vn 

FAOK 

Men Sent from QoT>—Moorehead . • • 1 

The Glory op Cmas^r—Mullins .... 23 

The Beam and the Mote — Oman ... 43 

The Abiding Word — Orr 61 

The Need or a Spiritual Vision — Parsons 79 

The Greatest Question— Pafon ... 93 

The Opening I>OOR&—Peahody .... Ill 

God's Image in Man — Perry 127 

Our Lord's Primary Lesson in the School 

OP Prayer — Pierson 141 

Christian Unity— PZ«wwer 175 

The Signs op God nr the Lipb op Man — 

Porter 187 



MOOREHEAD 
MEN SENT PROM GOD 



WILLIAM GALLOGLY 
MOOREHEAD 

Propbssob of New Testament literature 
and exegesis, and since 1899 president of 
the faculty in Xenia Theological Semi- 
nary, Ohio; bom Rix Mills, Muskingum 
Co., Ohio, 1836; educated Allegheny The- 
ological Seminary, 1858,9; Xenia Theo- 
lo^cal Seminary, 1859-62 ; ordained to the 
ministry, 1862; missionary of the Ameri- 
can and Foreign Christian Union, Italy, 
1862-69; pastor of First United Presby- 
terian church, Xenia, 1870; author of 
"Outline Studies in Old Testament," 
*' Studies in the Mosaic Institutions," 
" Studies in the Four Gospels," " Outline 
Studies in Acts — Ephesians," " Outline 
Studies in Philippians — Hebrews," 



MEN SENT FROM GOD 
Pres. W. G. Moorehead, D.D. 

** There was a man sent from God whose name tvas 
John."-^ ohn 1:6. 

THIS is a short but significant description 
of the mission of John the Baptist. 
Pew men whose names appear in the 
Bible receive such honorable mention as he. 
His place in the divine record is most 
conspicuous and the commendation of him un- 
qualified. He whose judgment is always exact, 
foimded as it is on His unerring knowl- 
edge of men, declared him to be a prophet and 
more than a prophet : of women-bom none was 
greater (Luke 7 : 25-28) . His coming and his 
ministry were the subject of prediction centu- 
ries before he appeared in the world. His 
birth was supernatural, as truly so as that of 
Isaac, for he came to gladden the hearts of 
his parents when they were old and well- 
stricken in years. His name of John was 
given him by the angel who announced his 
birth to his astonished father in the Temple. 

That which arrests attention in this verse 
and which is its prominent feature is the 
fact that John the Baptist was sent from God 
and by God into the world. His ministry was 
of heavenly origin, and himself likewise was 



MODERN SERMONS 



heaven-sent. Both himself and his mission 
were of divine appointment and ordainment. 
John seems to have regarded this as the chief 
part of his commission, and he refers to it 
again and again as the essential feature of 
his life and work (comp. John 1 : 33 ; 3 : 28 ; 
Mark 1:2). The same thing is made promi- 
nent in the prophecy which announced his ad- 
vent (Mai. 3:1). This, then, is the main idea 
in the text, viz. : a man sent from God. But 
this element, so marked in his case, is not 
peculiar or exceptional. It is also true of all 
who are commissioned to do Gtod's work in 
the world. The mark by which they are dis- 
tinguished, whether in Old or New Testament 
times, whether ancient or modem, is precisely 
this, they are men sent from God. Be it 
Moses or Samuel, Paul or Peter, Martin 
Luther or John Knox; be it any and every 
genuine servant of Christ in our own day; 
they are alike distinguished by this sign ; they 
have divine authority for their mission. 

Of those whom the Lord in His great mercy 
sends forth upon His errands there are two 
classes ; the ordinary laborers whose ministry 
is occupied with the common duties, the every- 
day toil which the gospel imposes, without 
which all testimony for God would ultimately 
<3ease. We cannot rate too highly those faith- 
ful men whose lives are spent largely in quiet- 
ness and obscurity and who are contented, 
€ven happy in their lot, and to whom the 



MOOREHEAD 



Church and the world owe more than can ever 
be paid. Besides these who make up the vast 
mass of God's workers there are the extraor- 
dinary laborers who are raised up for special 
service, for supreme emergencies, and who are 
correspondingly equipped therefor. To this 
class, the extraordinary messengers of (Jod, 
John the Baptist belonged, and it is of these 
we are to speak more especially. 

One of the most precious gifts heaven be- 
stows on the earth is a man with a message for 
his fellows. A man sent to deliver tidings of 
great joy, to acquaint us with God's thoughts 
and purposes about us, to pour light into our 
darkness, and to fill the heart with a song of 
gladness — ^what greater boon could be ours, 
or should be more acceptable? Such a gift 
ranks above every earthly good, ranks next to 
God's *' unspeakable gift ?' with which indeed 
it is closely associated. And such men do now 
and then appear; genuine messengers from 
God, envoys extraordinary from the court of 
heaven. Their advents are occasional, their 
visits rare. Long stretches of time often lie 
between the presence of one and that of his 
fellow. Their coming is like that of the 
highest poets and heroes, infrequent and ex- 
ceptional. There is no regular succession of 
them. Sometimes they appear in groups, and 
they deliver their messages contempora- 
neously, as in the deportation of the Israelites 
to Babylon when great prophets like Jeremiah, 



MODERN SERMONS 



Ezekiel, and Daniel were on the world's stage 
together; as in the beginning of Christianity 
when a whole cluster of them united in giving 
their testimony to men ; as in the Reformation 
of the sixteenth century. Sometimes one ap- 
pears alone, as in the instance of Moses, Sam- 
uel, and Elijah. But whether in groups or 
singly, God in His gracious pity and love does 
ever and anon enrich our race with the gift 
of a man from Himself. To spend a little 
while in the company of such men is profit- 
able. We cannot look, however inadequately, 
on a man sent from God without gaining some- 
what from him. He is a living light-fountain 
which it is good and pleasant to be near, in 
whose radiance all souls must feel that it is 
well with them. On any terms whatsoever we 
should not grudge to stay for awhile in his 
neighborhood. 

These men receive their commission directly 
from the Lord Himself. He furnishes them 
with their message and He equips them for 
their ministry. They are sent by Him, hence 
their mission is authoritative; they are sent 
from Him, therefore they have the needed 
gifts. Our Lord reserves to Himself the sov- 
ereign right to select and to commission His 
laborers. It is His prerogative as the Master 
in His own house, a prerogative that He has 
not delegated to any mere man or body of 
men. Thus He speais, ** Ye have not chosen 
me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, 



6 



MOOREHEAD 



that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and 
that your fruit should remain '' (John 
15 : 16). Thus likewise we are told that hav- 
ing ascended up on high '* he led captivity 
captive, and gave gifts unto men. . . . 
And he gave some, apostles ; and some, proph- 
ets ; and some, evangelists ; and some, pastors 
and teachers ; for the perfecting of the saints, 
for the work of the ministry, for the edifying 
of the body of Christ '' (Eph. 4:13). All 
gifts and graces, offices and office-bearers flow 
from Him. Christ is the ruler in His own 
house under whose hand the order of the 
house proceeds and the servants, great and 
small, come and go. Primarily they are not 
man-made nor man-appointed. They receive 
not their commission from mitered priest, nor 
at the hands of Presbytery. The ministerial 
call and function are not imparted by any 
holy chrism or imposition of human hands, 
nor by education or theological lore. Prop- 
erly speaking man has nothing to do with the 
great office save gladly to recognize what God 
in His sovereign good pleasure has given, 
chosen, and sent forth. 

Two important results flow from this truth. 
One is this : they whom the Lord sends forth 
into His work are clothed with divine author- 
ity. The Lord Jesus invests His servants with 
the like authority He Himself has, for in His 
intercessory prayer He says, '* As thou hast 
sent me into the world, even so have I also 



MODERN SERMONS 



sent them into the world'' (John 17:18). 
He had His commission from God, the foun- 
tain and source of all power and lordship. 
His apostles share with Him in their appoint- 
ment and mission. Wherever they go they 
carry with them heavenly credentials, and 
their message is authenticated by a power that 
is extra-human. It is not they who speak but 
the Spirit of their Lord. Men therefore listen 
to their voice, hang upon their words, follow 
them with joy that they may hear and learn, 
and have peace. 

The other is this : their whole-hearted devo- 
tion to their great task. Each of these sent 
men is swayed by an impulse, a force that 
ever impels him to fulfil his mission, to finish 
his work. It is the burden laid upon him by 
his Master, a burden he cannot lift from his 
shoulders and would not if he could. It is 
the will, the voice of God heard in the central 
deeps of his being, ever insistent, urgent, ir- 
resistible. Paul refers to it in language that 
may well be that of every one sent of God: 
* ' Necessity is laid upon me ; yea, wo is me if 
I preach not the gospel.'' That strange, com- 
pelling necessity drove him a glad and willing 
servant over much of Asia, over large sections 
of Europe, amid privation, suffering, victories 
and defeats, that he might make men know 
the love of God which surpassed knowledge. 
These men cannot do otherwise; they must 
accomplish their mission, fulfil their task, or 



8 



MOOREHEAD 



die. One of them, the prophet Jeremiah, ac- 
tudly sought to stifle the voice within his sonl, 
and said to himself, I will speak no more, I 
will sit in silence and witness no more, but the 
mighty word within him became as a burning 
flame in his bones, he was weary of forbear- 
ing, he could not contain (Jer. 20:9). Ease, 
comfort, home often, wealth, social position, 
friends are idl secondary, and are sacrificed 
without a pang of grief when they would 
thrust themselves between the man and his 
mission, when they would arrest his feet. He 
is God's messenger, and he cannot be stayed 
nor linger. 

Men sent from Qod are endowed with the 
noblest talents and gifts. The magnitude of 
the errand upon which they come necessi- 
tates this. All workers for God may justly be 
said to be sent by Him, and by Him ti^ey are 
fitted for their taak. But there come occasion- 
ally into our race those who create epochs in 
history, who set loose new forces that change 
the course of things, who become light-centers 
that fling their radiance far out into the sur- 
rounding darkness, whose life and teaching 
mold the thoughts and beliefs of generations. 
He who sends them takes care that they are 
supplied with the gifts and filled with the tal- 
ents, the greatness and the difficulties of their 
mission demand. From their birth they are 
girded by Him with power. John the Baptist 
was filled with the Holy Spirit from his moth- 



MODERN SERMONS 



er's womb (Luke 1 : 15). The angel that an- 
nounced his advent said, ** He shall go before 
him in the spirit and power of Elijah." He 
was bom great; enriched with supreme gifts 
from the beginning. Thus, likewise, when 
Moses was bom, we are told his parents hid 
him for they saw he was '* a goodly child.'' 
In Heb. 11 : 23 we learn that they saw he was 
** a proper child." Stephen explains what 
the attractiveness in the face of the little 
Moses was that arrested the attention and 
aroused the hope of his parents — ^he ** was ex- 
ceeding fair " (Acts 7 : 20)—** beautiful 
imto God " is Stephen's fine term. There was 
that in his face which faith read, for Qod had 
set His stamp upon him and so parted him 
from other children. From his birth Moses 
had the marks of one chosen of God and 
equipped with the most extraordinary talents. 
Ainram and Jochebed interpreted the divine 
purpose which providence traced in the face 
of their gifted child, and they feared not the 
king's commandment. 

The like supernatural endowment appears 
in the case of the prophets, notably in Jere- 
miah and Isaiah. We learn that Jeremiah 
was set apart to his high office before he be- 
gan to exist. His choice as the messenger of 
God antedated his birth. As his mission was 
to be a most unwelcome and perilous one, a 
ministry of admonition and of antagonism, 
God fitted him for it by the richest bestow- 



10 



MOOREHEAD 



ments. He was to be the solitary fortress, the 
coluimi of iron, the wall of brass, the one 
immovable figure standing athwart the path 
of the apostatizing nation, struggling to arrest 
and turn them back ; and he was girded with 
the strength his hard mission imposed. In 
the remarkable vision of Isaiah (Chap. 6) the 
prophet saw the Lord high and lifted up and 
heard the ceaseless chant of the seraphim, 
and he fell on his face overwhelmed witii the 
sense of his own and his people's sinfulness. 
His cry was, '* Wo is me! for I am undone.'* 
The swift seraph laid the flaming coal from 
the altar on his defiled lips. Thereby his 
pollution was purged away, and the marvel- 
ous style and sublime diction which have en- 
tranced the world were created. The like 
equipment is seen in the primitive Christian 
disciples. The Spirit in the form of disparted 
tongues of fire sat upon each of them. It was 
the fulfilment of the promise that they should 
be endued with power from on high. It sym- 
bolized the supernatural gift of speech, of 
burning, invincible speech that none could 
gainsay or resist. 

We find evidences of an impartation of 
extraordinary gifts for extraordinary service, 
in other men whose names are not recorded in 
the Scriptures. One or two examples must 
suffice. The first is Martin Luther. A child 
of the people, of obscure and humble origin, 
the son of a miner, all his ancestors back to his 

11 



MODERN SERMONS 



great-grandfather peasants, without fame or 
fortune, Luther was set to grapple in a death- 
struggle with the most gigantic power, the 
most consummate organization in existence. 
What were his gifts that he single-handed 
should smite the Colossus to the ground, free 
the race from its cruel domination, unchain 
the Bible and give it unfettered to the world? 
God was in the mighty struggle, we cannot 
doubt; it was His battle, not Luther's alone, 
and His was the victory. But He took care 
that the man sent to accomplish the mighty 
task should be girded with His strength. If 
the trenchant words of John smote on the ears 
of Israel as a voice from the other world and 
stirred the heart of the nation, we may weU 
say with Eichter that Luther's words were 
*' half battles.'' He flashed out illumination 
from him ; his striking idiomatic phrases and 
sentences pierced to the very heart of the con- 
troversy. There was in him insight, profound 
insight that betokens genius and more than 
genius, even the presence and the power of 
the Spirit of God. Frenchmen do not appre- 
ciate perhaps how much they owe to John 
Calvin and his fellow reformers, as Beza and 
Parrel, for the copious, firm, precise and accu- 
rate speech they wield with such elegance and 
power, just as the English-speaking people 
but feebly recognize the debt they owe to John 
Wyclif, John Knox, and William Tindale 
for our splendid English tongue. 

12 



MOOREHEAD 



The same truth is seen in the equipment of 
William Carey, the pioneer in modem mis- 
sions. Sydney Smith sneeringly named him 
the " consecrated cobbler/' A maker and 
mender of shoes he was, and he honestly and 
heroically maintained his family thereby when 
the little flock of Christians to whom he min- 
istered could but scantily support him. Not- 
withstanding the pressure of poverty, he 
managed to acquire Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and 
a goodly amount of other useful knowledge, 
especially in natural history and botany. But 
it was in India that his true mission opened 
to him, and his marvelous capacity for the 
mastering of dif&cult languages was dis- 
played. His translation of the Bible, in 
whole or in part, either alone or with others, 
into some twenty-six Indian languages; his 
Serampur press rendering the Scripture ac- 
cessible to more than a hundred million 
human beings; his composition of grammars 
and dictionaries of several tongues; his pro- 
fessorship of thirty years at Fort William 
College in Calcutta — all this and much more 
exhibit something of the marvelous talents 
with which God had enriched His servant, 
William Carey. 

Two lessons we may learn from the facts 
thus set forth. One is, that no emergency or 
crisis in human affairs finds God unprepared. 
He has His chosen instruments ready for 
every circumstance and every exigency that 

13 



MODERN SERMONS 



may arise. Even the fall of Adam was not 
a surprise, nor was redemption an after- 
thought. When Messiah is about to appear 
among men His forerunner is sent to prepare 
His way for Him. When Egyptian bondage 
has reached its climax, then Moses arrives. 
Grateful Jewish hearts have coined the magni- 
ficent proverb that has cheered many an op- 
prest one since: *' When the tale of bricks is 
doubled and there is no straw, then Moses 
comes." When the papal cup of abomination 
was brim-full and running over, heaven-sent 
men struck the filthy thing to the ground. 
When the gospel was to be carried to the re- 
gions beyond, when the age of missions had ar- 
rived, William Carey and Adoniram Judson 
were sent forth, and the churches of Britain 
and of America sprang to their feet to help 
in the blessed work. ** God never is before 
His time. He never is too late." 

The other lesson is, that the Lord alone can 
impart the gifts needed for extraordinary 
service. No man nor body of men can bestow 
them. Money can not buy them. Station fur- 
nishes them not. Education cannot secure 
them. They cannot be bought nor wrought 
by the hand of man. Education may whet 
the scythe, it cannot make it. 

Another characteristic of such men is that 
they receive special training from the Lord 
Himself. 

It is not enough that they be endowed with 

14 



MOOREHEAD 



great natural talents and capacities; they 
must enter God's school that their powers 
may be developed, their acquaintance with 
Him and His truth be made sure and absolute. 
They are always sent to that school and set 
down to those lessons which will fit them for 
their tasks. John the Baptist was in the des- 
ert until his showing unto Israel. His wilder- 
ness sojourn was one of thirty years. God led 
him there and there schooled and disciplined 
him for his dangerous and difficult mission. 
There in the profound solitude afar from the 
enervating influences of hollow formalism and 
artificial life, with none near but God, his 
spirit was chastened and tempered for the 
solemn duties that awaited him. This is char- 
acteristic of all sent of God. When He would 
fit His servants for some vast work requiring 
spiritual might and heroic self-sacrifice, He 
takes them afar from the distracting cares of 
the world to commune with Himself in the 
grandeur of solitude. Forty years Moses 
spent in the desert of Midian, a keeper of 
sheep, the best years of his life wasted utterly, 
worldly wisdom would say — ^but rashly. That 
sojourn qualified Moses to become the de- 
liverer of Israel, the leader of the Exodus, 
the conqueror of Egypt and the lawgiver of 
his nation. His education in Pharaoh's court 
might be valuable ; this of the wilderness was 
indispensable. ** All the wisdom of Egypt '* 
could not have prepared him for his future 

15 



MODERN SERMONS 



path. No man is fit to do God's work who 
has not had some training with the Lord Him- 
self. Nothing can take its place, nothing 
make up for its loss. 

All God's servants have been taught in this 
stem school. Elijah at Cherith, Ezekiel at 
Chebar, David in exile, Paul in Arabia, Sa- 
vonarola in St. Mark's Convent, Luther in Er- 
furth, are eminent examples of the immense 
value of being taught of God. The divine 
Servant, the Lord Jesus, spent by far the 
largest part of His earthly sojourn in the pri- 
vacy and obscurity of Nazareth. Even in His 
public ministry He often retreated from the 
gaze of men to enjoy the sweet and sacred re- 
tirement of the Father's presence. None can 
teach like the Lord. The man: whom He edu- 
cates is educated, and none other. It lies not 
within the range of man's ability to prepare 
an instrument for the service of God. Man's 
hand can never mold '* a vessel meet for the 
Master's use." Ordinarily great truths are 
not revealed to men in an instant of time; 
these are not thrust into the mind as if fired 
from a catapult. The truths a man can live 
and die on are wrought in the fires of the 
heart, in bitterest soul-agonies often, in plash 
of tears and sobs of secret longing. In silence 
and loneliness generally the true world work- 
ers are trained for their mission. Men who 
have learned to nurse their souls on truth in 
solitary meditation and communion with the 

16 



MOOREHEAD 



Invisible speak at length words that men must 
hear and heed. 

A firm persuasion of the absolute truth of 
their message is another characteristic of 
those who are sent from God. It is conviction 
of its truth and more than conviction; it is 
assurance of faith profound, immovable, un- 
alterable. God has spoken to them, and in 
the central deeps of their being His word is 
enshrined. More certain than life or death, 
more stable than the everlasting hills, firm as 
the throne itself, they know the message to be. 
We see this feature prominent in John. The 
period of the desert discipline was over; his 
difficulties and his struggles were ended. He 
had reached convictions, had learned truths 
on which to live and die, and he came forth 
from his retirement with his message, every 
word and syllable of which was to him a liv- 
ing verity, the eternal word of God. For in 
the solitude of the wilderness his spirit had 
been hardened into the temper a reformer 
needs. His locust food, his garment of 
camel's hair cloth, his indiflPerence to worldly 
comforts, his contempt of luxurious ease, his 
separation and his loneliness, his bronzed face 
and unfaltering tongue, all told how real his 
ministry was. If ever men saw a sincere and 
genuine man it was John the Baptist. Now 
this is true of all men who are sent from God. 
Standing in the midst of a world full of un- 
certainty, of doubt and skepticism, they know 

vn— 2 17 



MODERN SERMONS 



whom they have believed and what they af- 
firm. Each of them uses the little but significant 
word '; know ''—'' we know '';**! know/' 
There is not the slightest taint of agnosticism 
in their creed ; agnostics they are not nor can 
be. They have all caught a gleam of the in- 
finite glory; to some of them, to almost all 
of them, the King in His beauty has been re- 
vealed ; to them heaven itself has been opened, 
and the ineflPable light has streamed down 
upon their faces. That light, that blessed 
vision is never forgotten ; it stays with them to 
the end, through all their vicissitudes and 
their discouragements, their victories and de- 
feats. They have received the message of 
God, have felt the powers of the world to 
come, the Spirit of God has borne witness 
with their spirits: therefore they cannot be 
flattered nor ai^ed nor sneered nor perse- 
cuted out of their faith and their testimony. 

This assured confidence of the infallible 
certainty of the message is what the world 
wants. Multitudes are weary and sick of 
speculations, of barren idealities, and hol- 
low formalism. They want realities, not hy- 
potheses, food, not husks nor stones. God's 
chosen messengers bear precisely such mes- 
sages, and their faith in them is unwavering. 
They know that they know. It is easy to de- 
nounce the evil and evil tendencies of our 
age, and to extol th^ virtues and excellencies 
of former days. While there are not wanting 

18 



MOOREHEAD 



the evidence of much good, of genuinely he- 
roic self-sacrifice on the part of multitudes of 
Christian men and women, it must sorrow- 
fully be acknowledged that sinister assailants 
of no common sort threaten the cause and 
people of God on every side. There are prin- 
ciples and tendencies at work in modem soci- 
ety which if left unchecked will ere long re- 
sidt in disaster and ruin. A lawless drift is 
already on us, precurser of worse to come. 
Who does not perceive that the ax is already 
aimed at the chief hoops that bind together 
the staves of the civil polity ? The restlessness 
under restraint, the revolt against authority 
and even law, the growth of agnosticism, the 
assaults on the Bible the anchor of all true 
religion, the prevalence of materialism, fos- 
tered as this is by the philosophy and the 
commercialism of the time, the enormous 
greed of those who have and who want still 
more, the deep ominous growl of those who 
have not, who want and will have — all this 
betokens the breaking down of the barriers 
and the near approach of the " falling 
away,'' the apostasy, of which prophecy 
specdfis with most solemn warning (2 Thess. 
2 : 3, 4) . Men sent from God, with their liv- 
ing personal apprehension of God never per- 
haps were more needed than now; men who 
believe, with their whole mind and heart, soul 
and strength; believe, and endure as seeing 
Him wh9 is invisible. 

19 



MODERN SERMONS 



Some other features of these men may be 
grouped together and briefly treated. These 
are men of ardent love, of deep and abiding 
affection for their fellows. Paul had a con- 
tinual heaviness and sorrow in his heart for 
his unbelieving countrymen. One may well 
doubt whether he had unalloyed happiness for 
a single day during the whole period of his 
Christian career. Wherever he went he car- 
ried this burden of grief, a heart full of tears. 
Nor was his solicitude confined to the de- 
scendants of Abraham. How pathetic are the 
terms in which he addresses certain Gentile 
converts who were slipping away from the 
truth and the liberty of Christ in which he 
had set them : '* My little children, of whom I 
am again in travail until Christ be formed in 
you. ... I am perplexed about you." 
'' Now we live if ye stand fast in the Lord." 
Knox's midnight cry, '* Give me Scotland or 
I die," discloses the like passionate, tearful 
love and yearning. It reminds us of His tears 
who wept over guilty, impenitent Jerusalem, 
'* O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the 
prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto 
her! How often would I have gathered thy 
children together, even as a hen gathereth her 
chickens under her wings, and ye would 
not! " 

Strength and courage are always found al- 
lied with the tenderest feelings and emotions. 
Luther could be as strong and fearless as a 

20 



MOOREHEAD 



lion in the presence of the great and mighty 
of earth, and yet be as a little child with chil- 
dren. He loved music, loved to sing his even- 
song, to play soft melodies on his flute. He 
delighted in birds, in the still starry nights, 
and in the flowers and shrubs and trees. 
Many a tree he planted with his own hands. 
Strong, courageous, but tender withal, and 
gentle as a little child. He used what seems 
in our day violent and awful words against 
the pope, against Henry VIII and against 
others, yet words that the circumstances de- 
manded and the tyrannies and despotisms of 
these exalted potentates made necessary. He 
called them the swine of hell, and told them 
he, Martin, would grind their brazen fore- 
heads into powder! He writes: ** I have seen 
and defied innumerable devils. Duke George 
of Leipzic " — a great enemy of his — ^** is not 
equal to one devil. If I had business at Leip- 
zig, I would ride into Leipzig, tho it rained 
Duke Georges for nine days running." '* He 
lies there," said the Earl of Morton at Knox's 
grave, ** who never feared the face of man." 
They may appear harsh, intolerant, these 
heaven-sent men, but it must never be for- 
gotten that the mission imposed on them, the 
solemn, awful message they have to deliver, 
and their fidelity to Him who commissions 
them, forbid absolutely all softness, compro- 
mise, and pliability. The message as often con- 
tains lamentations and' mourning and wo 

21 



MODERN SERMONS 



as good tidings of great joy. It is the Lord's 
word they speak, and it is one of truth always, 
often of stem reproof and dreadful denuncia- 
tion. Whatever the message, let it be ours to 
welcome the messenger, and be glad for the 
heaven-sent man. 



22 



MULLINS 
THE GLORY OF CHRIST 



EDGAR YOUNG MULLINS 

Prbsidekt of the Southern Baptist Theo- 
logical Seminary, Louisville, Ky., since 
1899 ; bom Franklin County, Miss., Janu- 
ary 5, 1860; educated at Corsicana, Tex., 
1870-76; Agricultural and Mechanical 
Coll^ of Texas, 1876-79; ordained to 
Baptist ministry, 1885; graduated South- 
em Baptist Theological Seminary, 1885, 
D.D. and LL.D.; pastor at Harrodsburg, 
Ky., 1885-88; Lee Street church, Balti- 
more, 1888-95; editor of The Evangel, 
Baltimore, 1890-95; pastor of First 
churel^ Newton, Mass., 1896-99; author of 
^*Why is Christianity Tme,'' "The 
Axioms of Bdigion." 



THE GLORY OF CHRIST 

pREs. E. T. MuLLiNS, D.D., LL.D. 

** We beheld his ptory."— John 1 : 14. 

SOME years ago a painter who admired the 
moral beauty of Christ's character, but 
who refused to acknowledge that He was 
God, resolved to paint Christ's portrait from 
the evangelical records. For weeks he read 
these simple gospels and opened his soul to 
every suggestion of beauty and moral im- 
pulse, permitting himself to be moved and 
swayed by all the grandeur and radiance of 
that matchless life, knowing that only thus 
could he catch and reproduce on canvas the 
face he would portray. But in his process of 
sympathetic study of Jesus his unbelief slowly 
passed away. First one doubt and then an- 
other was consumed, burned up, so to speak, 
in the flaming splendor of that marvelous life, 
and ere long the painter bowed before Christ 
in adoration and worship. Like a man who 
has gazed into a holy mystery, he came forth 
among his friends, a look of wonder and of 
praise upon his face, and exclaimed, ** I be- 
held His glory." 

Men are denying to-day that Christ is di- 
vine. They are seeking to undermine that 
f aitii which has healed broken hearts, and has 

25 



MODERN SERMONS 



destroyed the power of sin, and comforted the 
dying for two thousand years. It is well that 
we ask and answer the question, Was He what 
He claimed to be, the divine son of Qod and 
Savior of the world? 

As evidence that Christ cannot be classed 
with other men, I invite your attention to the 
threefold glory of Jesus which we have beheld. 
First of all, we will glance at that glory as 
seen in the gospel records where the painter 
saw it. 

If a meteoric stone should fall upon the 
calm bosom of the sea, the energy of its im- 
pact might be measured by the diameter of 
the circling waves which it would set in 
motion when those waves had reached their 
limit. So the claims of Jesus may be tested 
by the role He enacted while on earth and by 
the effects which He produced. Let us study, 
then, the circling waves of His power in a 
series of relationships sustained by Him. 

Note, first. His relation to sin. He was 
Himself sinless. His inner life was a flawless 
mirror of stainless purity reflecting the image 
of God. He has challenged criticism for two 
thousand years to discover a flaw in His char- 
acter. ** Which of you convicteth me of 
sin ? " remains as He spoke it, the unanswered 
challenge of divine holiness. As has been said. 
He is the sun on which all the telescopes of 
time have failed to find a spot. 

He was not only sinless — ^He forgave sin in 



MULLINS 



others. Well did His enemies accuse Him of 
blasphemy when He pronounced the words to 
the paralytic, ** Son, thy sins are forgiven 
thee, " unless indeed and in truth He was Gk)d, 
for God alone can forgive sins. 

He transformed sinners. As a sunbeam 
falls on a mud puddle and draws up a drop of 
water into the clouds, distils it and purifies it 
of all foulness and sends it back as a snow- 
flake, even so could He lay His finger on the 
stained life of a Magdalen and make it white 
as snow. 

He shed His blood on the cross for the re- 
mission of sins, and He declared that remis- 
sion of sins should be preached in His name 
to the end of time. 

But sin is a violation of law, and this rela- 
tion of sin raises another question, that of His 
relation to law. And so we find Him claiming 
to be lawgiver and king. ** He that heareth 
these sayings of mine and doeth them," ** Ye 
have heard it said, but I say unto you," are 
forms of speech familiar on His lips. 

But law suggests a kingdom and a scepter 
and a throne. So we find that He is King of 
a new kingdom among men. He claims that 
His kingdom shall endure forever and He 
shall reign in righteousness. 

But a kingdom set up on earth implies con- 
trol of providential events. For how shall 
such a kingdom survive through the ages un- 
less Uie nder can control the course of his- 



27 



MODERN SERMONS 



toryt Bead the twenty-fourth and twenty- 
fifth chapters of Matthew, and see how caknly 
He anticipates the course of history, of earth- 
quakes and wars, of famines and pestilences. 
Yet He says he that endureth to the end shall 
be saved, and that He himself shall come 
again at the consummation. 

Providence, again, is but part of a vaster 
system of nature. And we find that He is 
Lord of nature. He spoke to the water, and it 
blushed into wine ; He spoke to the barren fig- 
tree, and it withered from the roots upward; 
He spoke to the loaves and fishes, and they 
were multiplied and fed the thousands; He 
spoke to the tempest, and it was hushed into 
silence. Nature was His servant. He was its 
Master. 

Towards man He asserts the sublimest 
claims. He is the object of human faith ; for 
Him all human ties must be severed if need 
be ; for Him death is to be welcomed. He ex- 
tends His arms and invites the race to come 
to Him for peace. ** Come unto me, all ye 
that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give 
you rest.** 

How sublime is this role enacted by the 
Nasanme! And to crown it all, He daims 
equality with God. Before ** Abraham was I 
am/* ** I and my Father are one." Well 
has it been said: Jesus was either Otod or a 
bad man ; for He claimed to be Qod. 

And how simple the picture in the gospels; 

28 



MULLINS 



how consistent; how transparent and clear 
the story. His words about Qod are like the 
spontaneous warblings of some strange and 
wonderful bird. His deeds of power, His 
miracles of grace are as sparks emitted by 
some great fire. Yet how unaffected He is in 
it all ! There is never any attempt at dramatic 
effect. In the moments of His greatest 
majesty He is as quiet and as unassuming as 
the shining of a softly beaming star. Homer's 
gods are represented as shalang the heavens 
by their least act. The poet produces his 
effects by physical disturbances when his gods 
stir. Jove gives an afSrmative answer to a 
petitioner, and this is Homer's description of 
it: 

* * He spoke and awful bends his sable brows, 

Shakes his ambrosial curls and gives the nod, 

The stamp of fate and sanction of a god. 

High heaven with trembling the dread signal took. 

And all Olympus to the center shook.'' 

Contrast this with the quiet majesty and 
moral grandeur of Jesus stilling the tempest 
as He rises from His slumber and says to the 
rolling billows and raging winds, ** Peace, be 
still." Sometimes He unites in a single act 
the perfectly human and the perfectly divine 
in His nature. Humility nestles up by the 
side of majesty. Grandeur is adorned by low- 
liness, and extremes meet in perfect harmony. 
He is worn out with toil and asleep on the 

29 



MODERN SERMONS 



boat like any other, and in an instant stills a 
tempest. He stands weeping at the grave of 
Lazarus, like any other broken-hearted friend, 
and at once hurls the voice of command into 
the tomb and raises the dead to life. He al- 
lows Himself to be led away captive by his 
foes, but restores the severed ear of the high- 
priest 's servant, and says to the impetuous 
disciple, '* Knowest thou not that I could call 
to my side twelve legions of angels? " He 
allows Himself to be nailed to the cross, and 
to be laid away in the tomb, and then in un- 
daunted might quietly opens his eyes and 
lays aside the grave-clothes, rises from the 
dead and ascends to the Father. 

Surely we have beheld His glory in these 
/ pages, and any man will repeat the painter's 
experience who allows Christ's image, as there 
portrayed, to have room in his mind and heart. 
I have read the tragedies of Shakespeare, and 
awe and horror have fallen upon my spirit at 
their close ; I have gazed upon the Sistine Ma- 
donna, that masterpiece of the artistic genius 
of Raphael, and a sense of beauty has 
mastered me. I have been swung on ship- 
board by the mighty rhythmic force of the 
ocean, and a sense of its power has filled me. 
I have gazed on a clear night at the dazzling 
splendor of the milky way, and adoration and 
humility have combined to sway my soul with 
emotion. I have stood on the Gomer Grat, 
surrounded by cloud-piercing sentinels of 

30 



MULLINS 



snow-clad Alpine peaks keeping guard like I 
tall archangels over diminutive man below, 
and wonder and awe have opprest me. But 
the image of Jesus Christ, as it towers in soli- 
tary grandeur before me in the New Testa- 
ment surpasses them all. He inspires me with 
greater awe than Shakespeare, and greater 
majesty than ocean or Alps. He is' more 
splendid than the milky way, and not afar 
from me, as it is, but near me. And if a 
human writer invented His picture as re- 
corded in Matthew, then a Galilean peasant 
wears the literary crown of the ages and the 
genius of Raphael and Michelangelo pale 
into insignificance by the side of his. Nay, as 
Rousseau said, it would take a Jesus to forge 
a Jesus. 

Again, *' we beheld his glory " in history. 
The marvel of the ages is the Rock of Ages. 
The supremacy of Christ as compared with 
other teachers in all our civilization of the 
West is as the supremacy of the giant oak in 
the midst of a forest of saplings, or as the su- 
premacy of the sun as compared with the 
planets in our solar system. 

Dr. Fairbaim says, men have attempted in 
recent years to get rid of Christ in two ways. 
One is by critical analysis. They have taken 
the knife of criticism, and with it have cut 
and slashed at the gospel records, until one of 
them has said that there are but six or seven 
authentic sayings of Jesus in the entire New 

31 



MODERN SERMONS 



Testament. The other way is by logical analy- 
sis. They have tried to show that the deci- 
sions of the early Christian councils declaring 
Jesus to be God are unreasonable and absurd. 
But when they have completed their destruc- 
tive work and done their worst, there stands 
Christ towering above the troubled sea of 
human speculation and doubt like a great and 
lofty rock at whose solid base the angry waves 
foam out their rage and dash themselves in 
vain. There stands Jesus in the firmament of 
human hope like a star of the first magnitude, 
above the multitudes of hungering and sor- 
rowing and sinning humanity, growing larger 
and brighter and more splendid with each 
generation, until to-day all over the earth the 
nations are in commotion as they gaze upward 
and point with the trembling finger of yearn- 
ing and hope to Him as the lodestar of their 
lives. 

Look for a moment at His achievements in 
history. See Him as He moves westward in 
the person of the apostle to the Gentiles. He 
kin<Ues a flame of faith in the islands of the 
Mediterranean. He plants His banner at 
Antioch. He sweeps through Lystra and 
Derbe, and Asia Minor begins to prostrate her- 
self before Him. He plants His foot in Ephe- 
sus, and Diana begins to totter from her 
throne. Bestless, He crosses the Hellespont, 
and at Philippi, amid the quakings of the 
earthy He wins trophies. In Athens, amid 

32 



MULLINS 



classic snrroundings of the Acropolis and Par- 
thenon and the chiseled beauties of Phidias 
and the glories of Praxiteles, His voice is 
heard calfing men to repentance. At length 
in Rome itself He grapples with the world 
power. His crown flashes in moral beauty by 
the side of the crown of the Caesars; His 
throne rises, mystic, silent and invisible, but 
mighty in its movement as the silent stars in 
the bending heavens. When the empire is 
broken up and barbarians come in hosts, 
sweeping like a conflagration over that an- 
cient empire. He lays His hand on their un- 
tamed spirits. Clovis is converted. The 
Goths are evangelized. The Franks and Gauls 
and Scandinavians come bending to Him. 
England owns His sway. America, through 
cavalier and Puritan and Pilgrim, is f oundfed, 
and when the feet of those men touch our 
shores, the '* sounding aisles of the dim woods 
rang with the anthems of the free " and in 
praise of the Nazarene. 

A humble prophet of Nazareth has done all 
this. He has done it by the use of a single 
principle — indeed, by means of one despised 
virtue, self-denial. The cross is the keystone 
in the arch of His power. It is a true saying 
that, as chemistry is organized around the 
principle of afiinity, as political economy is 
based on the single idea of value, as astron- 
omy owes it^ origin and progress to the one 
law of gravitation, so Christ founded His re- 

VII— 3 33 



MODERN SERMONS 



ligion on the one idea embodied in the cross, 
dying to live. 

See, then, how He dominates the world ; not, 
indeed, perfectly yet, but with increasing 
power. Look at the great creeds of Chris- 
tendom, the Lutheran, the Calvinistic, the 
Westminster, the Philadelphia and New 
Hampshire confessions of faith. He is the 
center of them all. If you should go through 
the forest with an ax and cut a ring around 
the great trees, all of them would die. To 
take Christ's name from these great creeds 
would be to do the same for them. They 
would wither, their leaves lose their life and 
color, their sap cease to flow. They would 
perish. 

The Church is His monument. She has had 
a long and checkered career, soiAetimes per- 
secuted and driven into the wilderness, some- 
times unworthy of her high calling, but even 
to-day she is the fairest among ten thousand 
institutions and the chief glory of this earth. 

The Lord's Supper, beautiful impressive 
memorial of His death, so simple that any 
child can understand it, yet so profound in its 
suggestions of divine love that no philosopher 
has ever fathomed its mystery to its depths, 
monument of quenchless love and gentle 
solicitude on His part and expressive of 
tender love on the part of His disciples, it 
stretches back through eighteen centuries to 
Calvary, filled with the aroma of His presence 



34 



/ 



MULLINS 



at every step of the way, and shining to the 
eye of faith through the ages like a chain of 
roses bedewed with tears of saints and woven 
by the hands of angels. 

He dominates the greatest art of the world. 
This fact has often been pointed out, and has 
become commonplace. Go yonder to the art 
galleries of Europe. Gaze upon those yards 
upon yards, and furlongs upon furlongs, and 
miles upon miles of flaming canvas, the very 
crown and blossom of human genius, and what 
do you see? His figure, His mother's figure, 
His brethren's figures. His disciples. His ene- 
mies. They portray Him as babe in Bethle- 
hem with the light bursting from His infant 
form, as boy in the temple, as teacher, as 
cleanser of the temple, as healer, being raised 
on the cross, being crucified, descending, as- 
cending to glory, judging the world. As I 
stand there gazing I interrogate those great 
masters, and from their graves I seem to hear 
the answer from MuriUo and Rubens and 
Raphael and the rest. '* It was He," they 
say, *' who touched my brush with celestial 
fire; His hands mingled the colors, and His 
spirit inspired mine to its great achieve- 
ments." 

So, too, as I listen to the great masters of 
music, to Handel and Hayden and Beethoven, 
as the billows of harmony roll in upon me and 
catch me up and sweep me on, as the sublime 
strains of the ** Messiah " take my spirit cap- 

35 



MODERN SERMONS 



tive and chain me to the flaming chariot of tri- 
umphant melody, I seem to hear the master 
of composition say: ** It was His breath 
through my soul which first fanned the flame 
of harmony ; His hands first smote the chords 
of my being until they thrilled with the very 
echoes of heaven." 

What shall I say more ? He is in our mod- 
em life everywhere: in our political econ- 
omy seeking justice in all industrial condi- 
tions, in our politics seeking to purge it of 
greed and graft, in our social life, in our 
literature shedding a moral radiance over it ; 
in modem missions He is not yet conqueror, 
but He presides over the struggle. 

" Careless seems the great avenger. 
History's pages but record 
One death grapple in the darkness 
'Twixt false systems and the Word. 

Truth forever on the scaffold, 

Wrong forever on the throne ; 
But that scaffold sways the future, 

And behind the dim unknown 
Standeth Christ within the shadow 

Keeping watch above His own." 

In the third place, we have beheld His gloiy 
in the realm of Christian experience. His 
glory shines on the pages of the New Testa- 
ment. It rises to a new brilliancy as He 
marches triumphantly through history. But 
for the individual believer, that glory attains 

36 



MULLINS 



to its noonday splendor in the experience of 
his own heart. 

Christianity adopts the scientific method of 
demonstration, viz., the method of experiment. 
Christian experience means Christian experi- 
ment. Make a trial of Christ and He will 
prove to you that He is real, a living Christ 
doing a divine work in the soul. 

We have all seen the triumph of Christ in 
debased lives, men and women plucked as 
brands from the burning. A diamond and a 
piece of charcoal are essentially the same 
thing, or at least diamonds were made of char- 
coals; in her own mysterious workshop nature 
accomplishes this wonder. That is interesting, 
but it would be far more interesting if my 
scientific friend could tell me how I can trans- 
form charcoal into diamonds. Now this is the 
glory of Christ, that He does just that. Jerry 
McAuley was a charcoal, and Christ changed 
him into a diamond. S. H. Hadley, the bum, 
the drunkard and reprobate, was a black piece 
of charcoal, and so was George Muller, of Eng- 
land, who began life as a burglar. Christ 
touched their lives and made them spiritual 
jewels, fit to adorn His own crown of glory. 

Christ predicted that He would do just 
that. He said that men would believe on Him^ 
that prayer in His name would open the gates 
. of Paradise, that a cup of water given in His 
name would have eternal reward. What a 
magic name it is to-day in its power to renew 

37 



MODERN SERMONS 



human lives! According to the old story, 
George Washington while a boy went into 
his father's garden one morning in spring and 
found to his wonder and delight that his name 
was growing on a garden bed, spelled out by 
the plants. His father, of course, had planned 
the surprise for George. But suppose the 
father had foretold that hundreds of years 
later his name, Washington, would be found 
spelled out by growing plants in other garden 
beds, and suppose the prophecy had come 
true, then we would conclude that he was in 
league with the cosmos, that he had super- 
natural power. Now Jesus has done a more 
wondrous thing. He predicted that His name 
would be written in human hearts to the end 
of time, and that that name in the garden of 
the soul would keep it clean from weeds and 
briars, and to-day tens of thousands of men 
and women are witnesses to His power. 

Experiment, I say, not in the vainly curious 
fashion, but in the high aim of moral purpose. 
Try Christ thus and He will give the proof of 
His power. The school children will recall 
the way the books prove that we have a blind 
spot. Hold a white piece of cardboard with 
black marks on it before the eyes, and move 
it up and down and back and forth until when 
it reaches a given point the black marks will 
vanish. Try this and prove it. Now Chris- 
tianity says turn the soiJ. towards Christ in all 
sincerity, and suddenly it will appear that 

38 



MULLINS 



you have not a blind but a seeing spot. You 
will behold His glory. A young woman scien- 
tist who was a skeptic denied Christ's resur- 
rection. The pastor in the neighborhood told 
her to give up speculation and try experiment, 
oflfer herself to Christ. She returned soon with 
radiant face, exclaiming, '* I cannot yet prove 
by argument that Christ arose from the dead, 
but I know He is alive, for He has come to me 
and manifested Himself to me." She beheld 
His glory in the holy place of experience. 

Here, then, is the ground of our confidence. 
First, we believe because, as Professor James 
says, we will to believe, or because the Bible 
tells us to believe, or because some friend wit- 
nesses to us of Christ's power. But at length 
we believe because of what He does in us and 
for us. That is the reason why destructive 
criticism cannot fundamentally shake our con- 
fidence in the Bible. In it we find reflected 
our own experience. If I look into a mirror 
which changes or distorts my face, I know it 
is an untrue mirror, but if it gives me back 
my own image, I know the mirror is true. 
Such a mirror is the Bible. It reflects truly 
my spiritual image. 

Blind Bartimaeus, of Jericho, was healed 
by Jesus, and Dr. Dale has suggested that con- 
ceivably his faith at first was based on the 
healing of the man bom blind in Jerusalem, of 
which he had heard. Imagine a doubter seek- 
ing to destroy his faith by calling in question 



MODERN SERMONS 



the story of the man in Jerusalem who was 
healed. *' The story looks suspicious/* says 
the skeptic. " Why did Jesus put clay on 
the man's eyes, and send him oflP to wash in a 
pool? There must have been fraud some- 
where.** What answer would Bartimaeus 
have given to such a doubter 1 He would have 
pointed to his own eyes. He would have de- 
clared, as the other declared, " Whereas I 
was blind, now I see.** I see the fair forms 
of nature and they all tell me I am no longer 
blind. The daisies that blossom at my feet, 
they tell as I gaze at their beauty that I am 
no longer blind; the white blossoms on the 
trees, the bloom on the grapes, and the hues 
of the pomegranate ; the blue haze on yonder 
mountain, the fiery splendor of yonder eve- 
ning cloud, and those burning stars above — 
these all are my witnesses; the faces of my 
friends which I now see, of my brothers and 
sisters, and the dear face of my mother — ^these 
all are my witnesses, all this beautiful won- 
drous earth of God's, fashioned by His fingers, 
all proclaim my testimony. Yes, yes, I be- 
lieve not because of what Jesus did to some- 
one else, but because of what He has done to 
me that He is the divine son of God. I have 
beheld His glory with the eyes to which He 
unlocked the gates of light and bade me enter. 
This, then, is the witness of experience, and 
every believer knows what it is in some meas- 
ure. I went to Him in my bondage and sin, 

40 



MULLINS 



and He broke off the shackles and set me free. 
I went to Him in doubt and perplexity, and 
the light of day fell on my darkened path; in 
the lonely night of sorrow when friends and 
helpers failed me, He came into my life and 
bound up my broken heart. In doubt and 
despair and dread of the future, He gives me 
life and hope. We have seen His glory, then,, 
on the pages of the New Testament record.. 
It has flashed before us through eighteen cen-^ 
turies of history, as the rider on the white 
horse went forth conquering and to conquer. 
That glory has also shone forth within us, and 
we see it in the lives of others. We have seen 
it as it breaks forth in the faces of the dying- 
who in His name greet death with a tri- 
umphant shout, and we seem to catch it in the 
notes of the redeemed host above who sing Hia 
praises and who proclaim that they owe their 
victory to Him, and shall spend eternity in- 
telling it. 



41 



OMAN 
THE BEAM AND THE MOTE 



JOHN W. OMAN 

Professor of systematic theology and 
apologetics at the Westminster Presby- 
terian Theological College, Cambridge, 
England, since 1907; ordained at Alnwick, 
1889; and minister there until 1907; au- 
thor " Problem of Faith and Freedom in 
the Last Two Centuries," "Vision and 
Authority,'' translation of Schleiermach- 
er^s ^^ Eeden uber die Beligion." 



THE BEAM AND THE MOTE 
Peof. John Oman, D.D. 

** Thau hffpoerite, east out firit the beam out of thine 
own eye, then shdlt thou see clearly to oast out the 
mote out of thy brother's eye."— Matt. 7 : 5. 

THIS saying is what is usually called a hy- 
pjerbole. That is to say its eflfect is de- 
rived from a conscious and evident ex- 
aggeration. A straw in the eye is impossible, 
a beam is outrageous. Were we quite honest 
with ourselves, should we not find it equally 
exaggerated as a moral judgment t We escape 
by restricting it to the Pharisees. But the 
Pharisees were not specially the object of it, 
and, moreover, they were quite respectable, 
religious people like ourselves. We should 
never forget that it is precisely a judgment on 
the Pharisees that may specially concern us 
nominally Ghristiau people. In that case 
would you not utterly reject and even utterly 
resent the description as a simple aud final ac- 
count of yourself and your neighbor? Your 
fault is not a beam, and, with dl charity, his 
is not a mote. Every one has faults, and you 
may be a little quicker to detect them in otiier 
people than in yourself, for that is humau na- 
ture. You are not, however, stone blind and 
you are quite right in believing yourselves 

45 



MODERN SERMONS 



tolerably truthful, honest, upright persons, 
which can by no means be said of all your 
neighbors. It is regarded by some people as 
right to speak of themselves as being desper- 
ately wicked, as being all wounds and bruises 
and putrefying sores, as having no right word 
in their mouths and no right thought in their 
heads ; but the mere cant of it all appears in 
the bitterness with which they would resent it, 
if it were said directly to them in other than 
Scripture language. You are quite right in 
not wishing to use mere phrases about yourself 
more than about others. You are not double- 
dyed scoundrels. You have never descended 
to the depths you have too often seen others 
reach. You have not drunk to excess as many 
do. You have not disregarded all rules of 
honor and decency. Your business principles 
are at least tolerably fair. You have done well 
by your family and not been altogether neg- 
lectful of public duty. You may not so much 
as wish to be described as a very religious per- 
son, yet, compared with many you faiow, you 
might even claim attention to your religious 
^duties. However, you have never pretended 
to be what you are not. Such pretense has not, 
certainly, been one of your temptations. Why 
then speak with such exaggeration, and, 
above all, why apply to you the hateful word 
hypocrite ? 

Nevertheless it is the Master's simple and 
final judgment on you. It is not our usual 

46 



OMAN 

judgment on ourselves. It differs from all 
current standards. The man who receives it, 
understands that he is dealing with the judg- 
ment, not merely of the best of men, but with 
the mind of God, with the ultimate, heart 
searching, indisputable eternal judgment. 
Furthermore, not till we accept it, can we 
make any right beginning with the will of God 
for our salvation or the salvation of others. 

The motes in the eye may be many: the 
beam can only be one. To our Lord it is hy- 
pocrisy. Now hypocrisy has two aspects, one 
in respect of things and the other in respect 
of persons; our relation to human souls be- 
ing even more vital for our veracity than our 
relation to what we abstractly call truth ; con- 
sequently we have to concern ourselves about 
just two fundamental virtues — about truth 
and about justice. Let us ask ourselves with- 
out exaggeration, yet, if possible, without eva- 
sion, how it stands with us in respect of truth 
and justice. They are ordinary fundamental 
virtues, for you cannot say anything worse of 
a man than that he is a liar and a thief. 

How then does it stand with us, first, in re- 
spect of truth? Few things are more con- 
temptible than falsehood, and no one is more 
untrustworthy than a liar. That is true, even 
if it be only careless lying, even if it spring 
only from mere love of babbling. It is a mote 
in the eye so distorting, that the person who 
has it never can distinguish between a true 

47 



MODERN SERMONS 



43tory and a false. Many can never tell the 
aame story in the same way, and what is 
strangest of all, never can see that he is any- 
thing himself but a miracle of reserve, silence 
and caution. When to this love of talk is 
added an artistic love of improving a story — 
a thing more simply accomplished by exag- 
geration — ^whole romances can grow out of 
hints, portentous events out of simple hap- 
penings, a mountain of gross misrepresenta- 
tion out of a molehill of fact. Unquestionably 
that may be a very large and distracting mote 
in thy brother's eye. 

Worse still than the careless lie is the self- 
interested lie. The simplest, least reflective 
form of it has a quite amazing effect in per- 
Terting the mind. It may seem a trivial 
matter when a servant girl always has a con- 
Tenient lie handy for every mischance, a shop- 
keeper becomes glib in assuring you that you 
cannot get the same article elsewhere for 
double the money, or a vain person acquires the 
habit of putting haloes on his relations and ex- 
alting his own doings to the borders of the he- 
roic ; but the task of clear thinking and of ac- 
curacy, the whole slack dealing with truth is 
never a small moral perversion. By allowing 
themselves such indulgences, there are people 
who come to feel trufii in every form to be 
inimical to their interests, and never tell it, if 
by any device they can deflect from it. 

Nor can interested falsehood always offer 

48 



OMAN 

the excuse of want of reflection, poverty 
stricken as that excuse may be. No one can 
look around him and question that there are 
men whose whole lives seem to be a deliberate 
attempt to profit by deceiving others. Con- 
sider all the lying advertisements and pros- 
pectuses, consider the whole parasitic world 
which lives on the gullibility of human na- 
ture. Surely that is a large enough mote in 
your neighbor 's eye ! 

And worse still is the malicious lie. In the 
Old Testament no iniquity is more strongly 
denounced. The poison of asps is in the 
tongue of the slanderer. In the New Testa- 
ment James says that such a tongue is set on 
fire of hell. Slander now is more insinuating 
and less obvious, and we have lost somewhat of 
that fierce sense of its malice, but its hints, 
evasions, calculated understatements are as 
cruel and as Venomous as hell. What else can 
put a man so far away from that love which 
believeth all things and hopeth all things, 
which is not only God's truth, but God Him- 
self? What coidd there be more perverting, 
more blinding in the eyes of mortal man ? 

In contrast to all this, you indulge in no 
wild misstatements, your memory is fairly ac- 
curate and disciplined, your expressions never 
greatly exaggerated. On any ordinary stand- 
ard you have a right, a wholly undeniable 
right, to regard yourselves as fairly truthful 
persons. Now truth has been rightly called 

vn-4 49 



MODERN SERMONS 



the root of all the virtues, just because it must 
be the first and the supreme condition for 
seeing clearly, for seeing everything as God 
sees it. Such a vision is what our Lord means 
by an eye without beam or mote. The resolve 
to have our vision clear, at all costs to see 
ourselves, life, duty, all truth as God sees it, 
must be the beginning of right turning to God. 
But in that case truthfulness must mean utter 
truthfulness of the whole nature, utter open- 
ness to reality, utter determination to deal 
with things as they are, and not as you wish 
them to be. If so where do you stand 1 What 
of that shallowness, that lightness which hates 
to be reminded of the deep, solemn, sad, awful 
things which lie under the surface of life? 
What of the habit of blinking the facts which 
are most urgent and most sure— death and sin 
and eternity and God? ^What of that willing 
bias towards self-delusion, which assumes so 
many guises, so many respectable and highly 
approved disguises? What, above all, of the 
inward truthfulness of nature which shuns the 
hidden things of shame, being ashamed to 
cherish in the heart what it woidd be ashamed 
to have known, and which finds no comfort in 
thinking evil hidden from the eye of men, 
because its purpose is to be open and manifest 
in the sight of God? What we are all called 
upon to realize is the immense, the overwhelm- 
ing power of self-deception, for hypocrisy is 
just the self-deception which lies in easy, con- 

60 



OMAN 

ventional, self-satisfied ways of thinking, over 
which our religion hangs like a shadowing 
cloud, but never as an illuminating pillar of 
fire. The ordinary lie, ugly, mean, contempti- 
ble, malicious as it is, is a small thing and does 
not half as much obscure from us the naked 
truth of God as just this self-satisfied con- 
ventional judgment of ours which accepts the 
ordinary moral standard of our class, which 
looks on life with the spectacles of custom, 
which never once tries to fathom what God 
has put into life and what He is saying to us 
through life. 

Our religion, instead of being a trumpet 
call to awaken out of sleep, has become part 
of this easy, prosperous, conventional life, into 
which a real understanding of the Master's 
teaching would enter as a thunderbolt. 

Now let us see in tlte second place, how it 
stands with us in respect of justice. If there 
is anything you would resent more than being 
called a liar, it would be to be called a thief, 
yet ** thy brother " may be unfortunately a 
common thief. In the cathedral of Strasburg 
when the people gather at twelve o'clock to see 
the wonderful clock, a priest keeps shouting 
at intervals in French, German, and English, 
*' Beware of pickpockets." What a remark- 
able and alas necessary commentary on hu- 
manity I Now imagine yourselves watching 
your neighbor's adimration, possibly his wor- 
ship, to find opportunity for robbing him I 

51 



MODERN SERMONS 



The idea is almost beyond your power to con- 
ceive. 

Nor have you any part or lot with that more 
specious kind of thieving which keeps within 
the letter of the law and which yet ** con- 
veys, the wise it call," as Faktaff says 
with vastly great success. It may not be al- 
ways easy to draw the line absolutely between 
what is honest and what is dishonest in busi- 
ness, but there are many things bearing that 
honorable name, indefensible on any stand- 
ard. You are not in any way like the men 
who knowingly and wilfully are implicated in 
such transactions. You would neither feel 
yourselves justified by custom nor by legality, 
but hold that the more extensively and the 
more safely money is " conveyed " out of one 
man's pocket into another's, the worse morally 
is the robbery. 

You have no desire to grow rich by preying 
on your brother's simplicity, and you have 
good reason for believing that you are equally 
free from profiting by his distress. Your 
blood boils at the very thought of the em- 
ployer whose fat fortune rests on the toil of 
weary seamstresses working for a miserable 
pittance under the bitter compulsion of cold 
and want of bread. 

Moreover, you have never been touched by 
the gambler's temper which seeks gain by any 
kind of happy fortune, careless of where a 
corresponding loss must necessarily fall. Nay^ 

52 



OMAN 

you go far beyond all this and have a positive 
doctrine of life which sees that in every walk 
tiie man who keeps his eye steadily on the 
profit, to the neglect of the services which 
ought to merit it, has a gambler's heart and is 
no honest man. 

You can rightly claim, then, to be an honest 
man in this matter, and it is no small claim. 
But we are not yet done with what ought to be 
accorded you in respect of justice. You have 
never restricted justice to a mere matter of 
honest bargaining. The person, for example, 
who is wilfully rude to a person not in a posi- 
tion to resent it, is not just ; deliberate readi- 
ness to hurt the feelings of others is a dis- 
regard to God shown in disregard to the 
creatures He has made in His own image, 
which is the very essence of sin. Quite mani- 
festly it must be a mote large and distorting 
in any eye that attempts to see the highest 
and holiest in life as God sees it. 

You have good reason for believing that you 
are free from that brutal form of self-asser- 
tion, and you strive at least never to do to 
those below you what you would resent from 
those above you. To appraise oneself by one's 
advantages of wealth and position and make 
others feel it by word or gesture is to you an 
especially offensive form of self-assertion. 
You have enough Christianity at least to be- 
lieve that God has made of one blood all classes 
of men and you try, so far at least as the ordi- 

53 



MODERN SERMONS 



nary forms of society will permit, to deal with 
all men in accordance with that conviction. 

But if these evils are only the motes, what 
can the beam be? The motes may be many, 
the beam is only one — ^what we found in re- 
spect of truth — ^a superficial, self-satisfied, 
conventional self-regard which will not be too 
much disturbed. None of these things spoken 
of sum up justice, which the Greeks regarded 
as the sum of all the virtues, and which Paul 
took to, be a righteousness which alone was 
worthy to clothe an immortal soul before God. 

We, on the contrary, seldom speak of jus- 
tice, preferring benevolence. Justice leaves 
no sense of merit ; benevolence affords a grati- 
fying sense of having done more than was 
absolutely required. The Eoman Catholics, 
be it remembered, are not alone in seeking 
comfort from works of supererogation. What 
a pleasant superior feeling, for example, is 
paying subscription dues, compared with pay- 
ing a debt. And this we cherish too in the 
name of Jesus Christ, who, if we understand 
Him at all, has reduced such a claim of merit 
to dust, and left us with nothing before God 
but an infinite, unpayable debt. Here is the 
beam which obscures your vision of all right 
fellowship and consideration and kindness 
and brotherly love. 

Does it not begin with your whole estimate 
of yourselves, which is corrupted by that sub- 
tle, diffused injustice which thinks of privi- 

54 



OMAN 

lege as merit, not as responsibility? In God's 
eyes who grants them, better social advan- 
tages, better education, more leisure to culti- 
vate the graces, greater ability can have one 
just effect — ^humbler, kinder, more helpful, 
more considerate service to men in proportion 
as they are less privileged. 

When you say even of the wicked, they have 
made their beds and must lie on them, forget- 
ting all the kind people who, often with very 
little help from yourself, have made your bed 
for you, are you just? When you forget to 
ask what you are worth to the world for all the 
blessings God has showered upon you, and 
simply think highly of yourself for being so 
blest, are you just? When you forget your 
responsibility for the higher gifts — ^talents, 
knowledge, skill, peace, grace — and ascribe 
them to yourself as merits and not to God as 
responsibilities, and use them for yourself 
and not for your brother, are you just ? Till 
you have felt with the apostle that you ar6 
debtors for the whole grace and joy and peace 
of the Christian life, debtor to all men, debtor 
most of all for the greatest gifts, debtor to pay 
God in the only way He can be paid, through 
His children, are you just? Is spiritual sel- 
fishness better than material selfishness ? Yet 
in our habit of stopping at ourselves and not 
going on to God, we readily and without pain 
of conscience, cherish both. 

It is all the same beam whether it concerns 

55 



MODERN SERMONS 



truth or whether it concerns justice. The 
Master calls it hypocrisy. ** Thou hypo- 
crite! " Hateful word! Nevertheless there 
it is — ^an actor, one who lives by masquerad- 
ing, who is satisfied with the show of things, 
who refuses to build on the bed-rock of re- 
ality! A hypocrite is not necessarily a delib- 
erate deceiver, but more frequently is wilfully 
self-deceived. Hypocrisy is not deliberate 
pretense, but wilfii shallowness and conven- 
tionality and superfciality of judgment, which 
resents truth and reality the moment they dis- 
turb self-satisfaction, which feeds the pride 
and not the humility on its benefits, which in 
short stops short at judging itself before men 
and according to the common standard, with- 
out going on to judge itself before God ac- 
cording to the whole measure of the responsi- 
bility and loyalty required in those who have 
nothing they have not yet received. 

From this springs the hypocrisy which ac- 
cepts convention for truth and externalities 
for God's final moral judgment, and which 
hinders us from finding God either in the life 
which Qod has given or in our brother whom 
He has made in His own image. This hypoc- 
risy lies at the root of our failure both to 
know ourselves and to help our fellows. Both 
failures go together. We attack confidently 
the outward evil, the gross evil, the evil every- 
one sees, not humbly at all, or as if we our- 
selves had any part in it, but as if it were 

56 



OMAN 

simply an offense to us which we had a right 
to demand should be removed. Reform at- 
tempted in that spirit becomes a mere breach 
of kindness and truth and justice. Precisely 
because an evil can be seen, is it not the root 
of all iniquity which so obstructs our vision 
that we do not even recognize its presence? 
Nothing can avail till our thought regarding 
our own and our brother's merit is entirely 
reversed and we offer ourselves, not as those 
who condescend, but as those who are so infi- 
nitely debtors to God that they are debtors to 
all men. 

To realize that, we must suffer Qod*a judg- 
ment, the absolute judgment of truth and jus- 
tice to pass upon us. It is not enough to ask 
to see ourselves as others see us, but we must 
ask to see ourselves as Ood sees us. To see 
ourselves thus we must above all be humbled 
by our privileges, not exalted ; use God's gifts 
to open our spirits to God and not to ward off 
His judgment of us ; rid ourselves in short of 
all the consolations of hypocrisy. Then and 
then only can we have the hunger and thirst 
after righteousness which God has promised 
tofiU. 

Yet mere human nature cannot face such a 
revelation. It cannot live in the naked light 
of truth and justice. It cannot live without 
the comfort of hypocrisy. We can only begin 
by suffering Qod to set us, not in the light of 
His cold judgment which we cannot endure, 

57 



MODERN SERMONS 



but in the light of His love in Jesus Christ, 
where alone we can sincerely say, Search me 
Lord and try my thoughts and see if there 
be any wicked way in me. Then, the beam 
being taken out of the eye, there can only be 
one prayer — God be merciful to me a sinner — 
and only one way of going to your home justi- 
fied — ^not by works of righteousness which you 
have done, but by the sheer unmerited pardon 
and love of God. 

There and there only all real helpful succor 
for others as well as salvation for ourselves 
must begin. We Christians have spoken much 
of the impossibility of reforming the evils of 
the world without a gospel to offer men ; and 
then we are faced by the powerlessness of the 
Church, even with the gospel it offers. But it 
takes small reflection to see that the spirit of 
the gospel is not behind this offer of the gos- 
pel at all. It has not been a real gospel to us, 
taking the beam of hypocrisy out of our own 
eye and setting us in utter humility and grati- 
tude before the pardoning, merciful love of 
God, henceforth to be debtors to all His chil- 
dren. Alas for us it is only a new ground for 
self-satisfaction, a new pinnacle from which 
we bend down to take the mote out of our 
brother's eye. In this hand stretched down 
to them from religious and moral heights, men 
naturally fail entirely to find the hand of the 
Friend of publicans and sinners, the very 
mark of whose gospel was that it was preach- 

58 



OMAN 

able to the poor, and for that matter, to the 
poor only. Moreover we cannot speak to the 
souls of men, regardless of rank, education, 
manners, morals, because it is not our souls 
the gospel has found, but only our superficial, 
conventional, respectable selves. This in every 
age, even when men have sought to help their 
fellows, has made them ** trust that they were 
righteous and despised others," because, in 
short, it is only an attempt to take the mote 
out of our brother's eye, and, behold, a beam 
in our own eye. 



59 



ORR 
THE ABIDING WORD 



JAMES ORR 

Professor of apologetics and theology at 
Theological College of United Free 
church, Glasgow, since 1901 ; bom in Glas- 
gow, April 11, 1844; educated at Glas- 
gow University, Theological Hall of 
United Presbyterian church; minister of 
East Bank United Presbyterian Church, 
Hawick, 1874-91; professor of Church 
history at Theological College, Glasgow, 
of the United Presbyterian Church, 1891- 
1901; author of " The Christian View of 
God and the World," " The Supernatural 
in Christianity," "The Ritschlian The- 
ology and the Evangelical Faith," " Neg- 
lected Factors in the Study of the Early 
Progress of Christianity," " Early Church 
History and Literature," " Elliot Lectures 
on the Progress of Dogma," " Essays on 
Ritschlianism," " The Image of Cfod in 
Man and Its Defacement," " The Problem 
of the Old Testament," " The Bible Under 
Trial," "The Vii^n Birth of Christ," 
one of the editors of the "Pulpit Com- 
mentary," etc. 



THE ABIDING WORD 
James Obb, DJ). 

** Heaven and earth shall pass away, hut my wards 
shall not pass away." — ^Matt. 24 : 35. 

A WORD seems a light and fragile thing 
put in comparison with this mighty and 
glorious fabric of heaven and earth. 
** Heaven and earth," Jesus says, '* shall pass 
away," yet nothing in itself might seem more 
unlikely. The first impression which the great 
objects of nature make upon us is that of 
strength, solidity, enduringness. The earth 
we tread on, the hills girding us, the rocks 
frowning down upon us, the stars in their 
nightly watch above us, all give the idea of 
objects which are the opposite of transient — 
which may be depended on to outlast all 
human generations. 

And this at first sight seems the verdict of 
history. '* One generation cometh and an- 
other goeth; but the earth abideth forever.'* 
The constellations which the Chaldean astron- 
omer dim ages past noted in his book; the 
planets to which he gave their names; the 
Pleiades and Orion spoken of by Job; all 
meet the gaze of the student of the skies just 
as they used to do. The traveler, as he visits 
the spots famous in ancient history, marks the 

63 



MODERN SERMONS 



mounds where lie buried the ruins of once 
great cities, and views the wasteness and deso- 
lation around, has the same reflection forced 
on him — ^the shortness of human life, the 
transiency of human affairs, and, as con- 
trasted with this the enduringness of nature. 

Over against this lasting reality of heaven 
and earth how frail, how perishable a thing 
seems a word ! Of the numberless myriads of 
words spoken every day, how few have the 
faintest chance of living in memory even for 
an hour. Words, speaking generally, are the 
lightest, most trivial, most evanescent, least 
substantial of all entities. Words written are 
hardly more enduring than words spoken. 
Look at the mass of old books which cumber 
the shelves of any of our libraries, and ask 
the question. Who ever reads them ? Our own 
day has its thick crop of authors and of 
books, but how many of them will be re- 
membered or heard of twenty or fifty or one 
hundred years hence ? 

Yet Jesus says in this passage of the text 
that heaven and earth shall pass away, but 
His words shall 'not pass away. He deliber- 
ately puts His words in contrast with this 
mighty material fabric of the physical uni- 
verse, and declares that while it is not eternal, 
His words are ; that His words shall last while 
it perishes ; that they are more enduring than 
it. It was a calm, great utterance, and the 
wonder of it is only increased when we think 

64 



ORR 

of what Jesus was as He appeared to His con- 
temporaries. In any ordinary man in Christ 's 
worldly position such words would have been 
the height of madness ; and so probably they 
would have been regarded by the Herods and 
Pilates and Caiaphases of his time. Yet his- 
tory has verified this saying of Christ; His 
words have taken deeper and deeper hold 
upon the minds of men as the centuries have 
advanced; and thereby we have been taught 
to see the difference between Christ's outward 
seeming and His real greatness. 

We are to try now to see for ourselves that 
what Christ says in this wonderful saying of 
His is true. And we may begin by remind- 
ing ourselves of the falsity of the conception 
into which we so easily glide in thinking the 
material world to be more enduring than the 
spiritual. Christ's saying teaches us to recast 
our first impressions. That is a thing we are 
constantly under the necessity of doing. We 
are constantly being deceived by the outward 
appearances and shows of things, and have to 
learn the art — ^a great part of the wisdom of 
life just consists in learning the art— of get- 
ting behind appearances, and judging reality 
by other than material standards. When we 
do this we learn that mind is greater than 
matter, truth more enduring than the material 
order, thoughts and the words that embody 
them more permanent than even heaven and 
earth. 

vn--5 65 



MODERN SERMONS 



** Heaven and earth," Jesus says, ** shall 
pass away." Now this, notwithstanding the 
apparent enduringness, is, as we biow to-day, 
a simple and literal scientific fact. Stable as 
this great material universe seems to be, it is 
really in constant process of change. Only 
slowly and by prolonged and gradual steps 
has the universe been built up to what it is 
now. It had its beginning and it will have its 
end. Science makes perfectly clear to us that 
the existing conditions of things is not a per- 
manent one ; that the world, to use an illustra- 
tion of its own, is in the position of a clock 
running down, and that it is as impossible for 
the present system of things to go on forever, 
without renewed supply of energy, as it would 
be for a clock to go on forever without re- 
newed winding up. And there is nearly as 
little hesitation in science as there is in Scrip- 
ture in saying in general terms what the end 
shall be. The end, in the view of men of 
science, may be postponed to an indefinitely 
distant period, but they no less than the be- 
liever in revelation most surely look forward 
and hasten unto the coming of a day — ^he may 
not call it a day of the Lord — ^when the heav- 
ens being on fire shall be dissolved and the ele- 
ments shall melt with fervent heat, and the 
earth also and the works that are therein shall 
be burned up. No truth is therefore more 
certain than this, testified long ago by the 
prophet Isaiah — ** Lift up your eyes to the 

66 



ORR 

heavens and look upon the earth beneath ; for 
the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and 
the earth shall wax old like a garment, and 
they that dwell therein shall die in like man- 
ner '' — ^tho the prophet is able gloriously 
to add — ^and it is but the Old Testament antic- 
ipation of this New Testament saying—** But 
my salvation shall be forever and my right- 
eousness shall not be abolished." 

Look now at words. It may be true that 
many words are mere breath and nothing else ; 
true also that most books often are destined to 
a very brief term of existence. But this is not 
true of all words. There are words which the 
world reckons among its choicest treasures 
and which it will not willingly let die — ^words 
of wisdom so imperishable, of truth so rare,, 
of thought so deep, of counsel so wise, that 
they can never pass away. The Bible is a book 
of very old words, and what freshness and vi- 
tality still belong to them. But even outside 
the Bible there are words in other literature, 
words great and wise and noble and beautif ul^ 
to which this same quality of permanence in 
their degree belongs. They are the words into* 
which the race has distijled its choicest wis- 
dom, and they are bound to live. And let us 
not imdervalue the might of words. The 
thoughts they embody may be invisible; you 
may not be able to see or weigh or measure 
them, but the force which resides in them is,, 
for all that, incalculable. Words have power 

67 



MODERN SERMONS 



to kill and make alive. The ideas embodied in 
words are the forces which make and unmake 
societies. Masses of men are moved by the 
ideas which gain possession of their minds and 
these ideas are implanted in them and propa- 
gated through winged words. Mere physical 
force avails little in the end against the 
growth of ideas. It is ideas which govern the 
world. We come to see then, that it is not 
the material but the immaterial in which re- 
sides the greatest vitality ai^d* permanence. 
Heaven and earth shall pass away but it may 
very well be that there are some words which 
shall not pass away. 

This quality of permanence we speak of be- 
longs preeminently to the words of Christ. 
Jesus says it does and we are to try to see that 
what He says is true. 

To show this, glance for a moment at what 
kind of words they are which do endure and 
what kind of worc^ they are which do not en- 
dure. There are three kinds of words Regard- 
ing which we may say with all confidence that 
they cannot endure. The first is false words. 
Falsehoods, indeed, have often a surprising vi- 
tality. They live long, are hard to kill, and in 
the interval do an infinite amoimt of mischief. 
Nay, so greedily do the minds of men some- 
times receive error, so easily are they led away 
by sophistry and by appeals to their passions 
and prejudices, that we might be tempted to 
think that it is error, not truth, which rules 

68 



ORR 

the world, and that the still, small voice of 
truth is scarcely heard in the noise and con- 
fusion of unwisdom and falsehood. But only 
a little thought is necessary to dispel this illu- 
sion. We cannot doubt that under the govern- 
ment of a God of truth the ultimate fate of 
everything false in this world is to be found 
out, exposed, condemned. An error, a super- 
stition, may have a reign of centuries, but by 
and by, as thought widens and discovery ad- 
vances, it is sure to be exploded. Every year 
sees the interment of some old-world fallacy, 
and if it also sees the springing up of some 
new fallacy of its own, future generations in 
like manner will see that buried. 

A second class of words which cannot en- 
dure is trivial words. How few of the words 
spoken every day have even the remotest right 
to continued existence. They relate to the 
mere trifles or accidents of life : what so and 
so thought; how he felt; what he did; our 
passing impression about this and about that ; 
the news of the day ; where we were ; what we 
saw ; whom we met— so a stream of irrespon- 
sible talk flows on. Words of this kind are 
not meant to live — ^you can compare them to 
nothing more appropriately than to those 
swarms of gnats which circle round your 
heads in the sunlight on a warm summer even- 
ing, to which nature allots but a brief hour or 
day of existence. 

The third class of words which cannot en- 



MODERN SERMONS 



dure are those which relate to subjects of but 
temporary importance. They need not be 
trivial words ; the subjects to which they re- 
late may be of the very highest interest and 
importance for the imme<fiate present, but 
their interest is not a permanent one. There 
comes a day when they are things of the past 
and live^only in history. Of what interest to 
us, e. gT, except for historical purposes, are 
the questions of life and law and government 
Meeting the Middle Ages 1 We have our own 
questions of political and social reform which 
are to us of great moment, but even these will 
hecome things of the past and will cease to in- 
terest our successors- Prophecies will fail, 
for they shall be fulfilled ; tongues shall cease, 
for they shall no longer be spoken; knowledge 
shall pass away, for that to which our knowl- 
edge and ordered sciences relate shall have 
vanished from existence ! 

From these considerations we can gradually 
infer by contrast the character of the words 
which must and shall endure. They must be 
true words ; they must be weighty words ; and 
they must be words which refer to subjects 
of perpetual and eternal interest. Now what 
we say is that this is preeminently the char- 
acter of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. 
It is upon the fact that His words are true, 
that they are weighty, and that they relate to 
subjects of infinite and everlasting moment, 
that He bases His assertion that heaven and 

70 



ORR 

earth shall pass away, but His words shall not 
pass away. Can we refuse the claim f 

Christ's words are true. He came forth 
from the bosom of the Father to proclaim the 
truth to a world which had in large measure 
lost the knowledge of the true God and of the 
way of life. He can say of His words what no 
other could say, ** I am the truth." Ap- 
proach Christ even &om the human side and 
this quality in Him is apparent. The light of 
true knowledge of the Father shone in His 
soul and as it shone in no other. He had the 
clearest insight into the facts and laws of the 
spiritual world. Every chord of His nature 
vibrated in harmony with holiness and re- 
sponded in delicate sympathy to impulses 
&om above. "What says even a skeptic of 
Christ (Greg) : *' In reading His words we 
feel that we are holding converse with the 
wisest, purest, noblest being that ever clothed 
thought in the poor language of humanity ; in 
•studying His life we are following in the foot- 
steps of the highest ideal yet presented to us 
on earth. ' ' Christ spake as never man spake ; 
and in this way, by his words, as well as by 
all else about ffim, He vindicated His claim to 
be not son of man alone, but Son of God Most 
High. 

If Christ's words are true do they not also 
possess the other qualities of permanence t 
They are certainly weighty words. No light,, 
trivial, shallow utterances are they. They em- 

71 



MODERN SERMONS 



body deep enduring principles ; set forth more 
than master truths ; move in a region as high 
above the ordinary teachings of man as 
heaven is high above earth. When a man 
asked Jesus to bid his brother divide his in- 
heritance with him. He said, ** Man, who made 
me a judge and divider over you? " It was 
not Christ's mission to occupy Himself with 
these petty controversies. It is this which 
give His words weight. Each age, as it comes 
round, finds them fruitful in applications to 
itself. Christ commits Himself to no side in 
party politics; to no one denomination or 
party in the Church; to no one form of 
Church government or action ; to no one mode 
of social organization; to no one solution of 
the questions of capital and labor, of rulers 
and subjects, of rich and poor. And the rea- 
son is that the solution of these questions 
proper to one age and stage of society, would 
not be the solution proper to another age and 
stage of society, and Christ is not the Teacher 
of one age only, else His words would, like 
those of other teachers, have long since become 
obsolete, but the Teacher of aU times and of 
all ages. Hence He contents Himself with 
enunciating great truths, unfolding great 
principles which underlie and are to guide us 
in all our studies of these subjects and ought 
to regulate us in our thought and legislation 
upon them. 

I was much struck in reading the 

72 



ORR 

" Thoughts on Religion *' by the late Mr. Ro- 
manes, that eminent scientific man who, dur- 
ing the greater part of his life, was under an 
absolute eclipse of his faith, who lost his faith 
even in God and wrote against belief in God, 
but who the last year or two of his life came 
back to the full Christian confession, and he 
tells us in these ** Thoughts on Religion " 
that one thing that most profoundly influ- 
enced him was the discovery that Christ's 
words did not become obsolete as the words of 
other great teachers did ; that while the words 
of Plato and others had passed away so far as 
actual living influence was concerned, the 
words of Jesus endured, and it was just this 
truth, that His words did not and do not pass 
away, that produced so remarkable an effect 
upon his mind. 

But even this is not the most essential part 
of Christ's teaching. It is not the kingdom of 
earth but the kingdom of God concerning 
which He specially came to enlighten men, 
and it is to this higher and eternal region that 
most of His teachings belong. Here most of 
all we see the truth of the statement '* Heaven 
and earth shall pass away, but my words shall 
not pass away." 

What are the special themes to which 
Christ's words relate? He speaks to man 
above all of God His Father, and truth about 
God — ^if only it be truth — can in the nature of 
the case never pass away. Truth about other 

73 



MODERN SERMONS 



things may pass away; but traih about eter- 
nal Ood, His being, character, love, grace — 
this can never pass so long as God Himself 
endures. 

Christ speaks to ns again about man, but 
about man under what aspect and in what 
relations 1 Not from the point of view of man 
in any of his natural cluoracteristics, as rank, 
age, sex, race, culture ; but solely of man as a 
spiritual and immortal being, in his capacity 
of enduring existence, in his relation to Ood 
and eternity. Christ speaks of that which is 
universal in man, therefore His teaching en- 
dures and applies to all grades of civilization 
and all stages of culture. In Christ Jesus 
there is neitiier Greek, or Jew, or Barbarian, 
or Scythian, or bond, or free, or male or fe- 
male, or any of those things; but Christ re- 
gards man as a spiritual and immortal being ; 
in his enduring aspect ; in his relations to God 
and to eternity. Christ looked at man always 
and altogether in that one light, set man be- 
fore Him in that light as He went through the 
world, taught about man in that light, legis- 
lated for man in that light, never looked at 
man in any other light tiian that.. It might 
be the poorest beggar on the street ; it might 
be the greatest sinner in the city; Christ al- 
ways looked on that man or that woman in 
the light of their relation to Qod and to eter- 
nity, and therefore Christ's teaching about 
man endures. It cannot become obsolete; 



74 



ORR 

it goes down deeper than all these distinc- 
tions that divide ns. Oceans divide nations, 
interest divides nations, but Christ's teach- 
ing about man, about the soul, goes deeper 
than all these things. His teachings are 
fitted for every race— experience proves that 
— ^for every age, for every civilization. The 
little child begins to lisp '* Our Father '* and 
takes in these teachings of Jesus, and the sage 
in the heights of his loftiest speculations feels 
that he can never get beyond them, and so 
Christ's words about man endure. 

Christ speaks again of spiritual truth and 
duty, of the righteousness of the kingdom of 
God, and this is truth which in its nature is 
eternal. There is no inherent necessity, so 
far as we can see, for the laws of the material 
tmiverse, of the heaven and the earth, being 
precisely what they are. The planets, had the 
Creator willed it, might have revolved in other 
orbits, might have moved in different direc- 
tions, the properties, laws and relations of 
substances might have been different from 
what they are. The fabric of the world is thus 
contingent on the Creator's decree, and so is 
alterable and can be thought of as passing 
away. But it is not so with spiritual and 
moral truth. That is eternal as the nature of 
Gk)d Himself. No decree of heaven could ever 
make that which is essentially right wrong or 
that which is essentially wrong right; could 
ever make falsehood, deceit or treachery into 



MODERN SERMONS 



virtues, or make love, affection, fidelity into 
vices. But it is in this region of eternal truth 
that throughout His gospel Christ specially 
legislates. 

Finally, Christ speaks to man of salvation, 
and one of His favorite names for salvation is 
eternal life. It needs no proof that words of 
truth about eternal life are words that must 
and shall endure; that after all sums up the 
whole nature of Christ's mission to the world. 
He came to seek and to save the lost. He 
came that He might redeem and save us and 
bring us back to God, and what is Christ's 
own great name, or one of His great names 
for this salvation He came to bring? Is it 
not just this eternal life: ** I give unto my 
sheep eternal life," he says. He came that 
we might have life, that we might have it 
more abimdantly. In the very nature of the 
case truth about eternal life is truth that 
cannot pass away. Truth about earthly, 
temporal things may pass away; truth about 
eternal life cannot pass away. All that 
Christ came into this world to do had for its 
end the bestowing upon us of that life which 
is everlasting. His coming, His living, His 
dying. His rising again, the gift of His Spirit, 
everything eke, all has this for its end, that 
we poor, perishing sinners may be lifted up 
into participation with that pure, holy, in- 
corruptible, blessed life of God Himself, which 
is just the other name for eternal life; and 

76 



ORR 

truth about this eternal life, as I say, is truth 
that can never pass away. 

Thus we have turned these words of Jesus 
round and round. The more closely we look 
at them the more clearly we see that from 
their very nature they cannot pass away. 
They remain to us the touchstone of eternal 
truth, in all spiritual things, the rock foun- 
dation on which alone if men build they shall 
stand secure in that dread day, which shall 
try every man's work ,of what sort it is. May 
God grant that at long and last, when our per- 
sons and characters and life work are brought 
unto judgment, they may be found enduring 
because resting on this rock of the eternal 
words of Christ 1 



77 



PARSONS 
THE NEED OF A SPIRITUAL VISION 



RICHARD GODFREY PARSONS 

Chaplain and fellow of University Col- 
lege, Oxford, England, since 1907; ex- 
amining chaplain to Bishop of Win- 
chester, 1909; bom in 1882; educated 
Durham School, 1895-1901; studied at Ox- 
ford, 1901-6; Liddon theological student, 
1906,7; stuied theology at Strassburg 
and Berlin universities, also at Cuddesdon 
Theological College, 1906,7 ; ordained dea- 
con and priest (London), 1907; curate of 
St. John, Hampstead, London, N. W., 
1907. 



THE NEED OF A SPIRITUAL VISION 
The Eev. Eichard G. Parsons, M.A. 

" Be hringeth them up into a high mountain apart, 
and he was transfigured before them." — ^Matt. 17: 
1,2. 

WHO of US has not at some time longed 
in his heart for a vision to be vouch- 
safed to him, yearned that something 
might be shown to him, clear and indubita- 
ble, to prove to him once for all that verily 
and indeed there is a God ; that without doubt 
within and beyond this strange world in which 
we are set, with all its puzzles and difficulties, 
its apparent perversities and contradictions, a 
supreme purpose is being worked out, a strong 
and living power by wisdom is reaching from 
one end of the world to the other, mightily and 
graciously ordering all things? If only the 
reality of this were once revealed to us in 
such a way that we could no longer hesitate 
to accept it as a fact, nay, more real than the 
dim world of which it would be the glorious 
explanation, how difiEerent everything would 
be ? We feel we could go straightforward then, 
our path clear, a bright light shining around 
US; progress would be ours, for we should 
know something of the why and the where- 
fore of the world, and be able to guide our 

vn— 6 81 



MODERN SERMONS 



lives accordingly, in spite of ignorance and 
opposition about ns, *' Oh! that thou would- 
est rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come 
down to make thy name known to thy adver- 
saries, that the nations might tremble at thy 
presence! '* So cried the Hebrew prophet of 
old, and man has ever joined in spirit with his 
cry. And it is a glorious fact, that ever in 
proportion to the earnestness and sincerity of 
his prayer for a vision, a vision has been 
vouchsafed to him. If in the modem scientific 
study of religion age-long history has taught 
us nothing else, it has certainly taught us 
this, that from the earliest, feeblest gropings 
of man's spirit feeling after God, to his strong- 
est and noblest achievements in the search for 
truth, right through, the words of Jesus Christ 
have been seen to be true, and His promise a 
promise warranted and justified by facts when 
He said, ** Seek and ye shall find; ask and it 
shall be given you; knock and it shall be 
opened unto you.'* 

For those that have sought have found; 
those that have asked have been given that for 
which they prayed ; those that have knocked 
have had the portals of vision opened to them. 
No one thinfcs of doubting the truth of this 
fact in the external world of matter, in the 
realm of scientific discovery and invention. 
The progress made in our knowledge of these 
things during the past fifty years — ^nay, if you 
will, the achievements of the past week alone 

82 



PARSONS 



— ^would be sufficient to silence such a doubt ; 
but — and this we are slower to realize — ^in the 
inner world, that spiritual realm where men's 
souls live and think and aspire Qodward, this 
law is equally valid. Here, too, if we seek we 
shall find. Men have sought in the past, and 
they have found; only whether it be in the 
outer or in the inner world, if you would be a 
discoverer, if you would see visions, you must 
seek. Seeking is not an acquiescence in igno- 
rance, or a resting content with shallow, super- 
ficial opinions which we miscall mysteries. 
It is a passionate desire for knowledge, a long- 
ing of the very inmost soul for truth. Great 
discoveries in the world of nature come as the 
result of people being aware that there are 
great problems to be solved, latent forces to be 
set in motion. They come as a result of long 
and zealous labors to this end. And are we to 
believe that in the vaster universe of the spir- 
it 's life and being, where the mighty problems 
of life and death, of good and evU, of truth 
and error, are waiting to be made out, where 
the master forces of the thought and will and 
emotion are set in operation — ^are we to^believe 
that in that sublime region where the divine 
and the human spirit meet together and hold 
mysterious converse, these discoveries will 
be made by the lazy, and that the indolent 
and the indifferent will be given revelations 
and visions of God? It is impossible; it can- 
not be. Light indeed does come into the 

83 



MODERN SERMONS 



world, truth indeed is revealed, men do see 
visions, but only those who toil in their seek- 
ing, only those who hunger and thirst after 
God's kingdom and His righteousness, only 
tiiose who wrestle and pray in the disquietness 
of their hearts, only to them are visions given, 
only they come to appear before the presence 
of God. 

I believe there is not one of us here who 
has not at some time longed for the vision of 
God, for spiritual enlightenment, for a reve- 
lation to his soul. Is that longing still alive in 
us, urging us ever forward to greater effort in 
the search for what is true and what is real? 
Can we with sincerity say, " My soul is athirst 
for God, even for the living God ? Oh ! when 
shall I come to appear before the presence of 
God? *' Or has the sublime aspiration passed 
out of our hearts and left us without ideals/ 
without enthusiasm for what is strong and 
beautiful and good? 

How fatally easy it is for all of us to slip 
into a way of life in which our horizon be- 
comes narrowly bounded, our range of sight 
and interest more and more contracted ! How 
easy to let our perceptions become incapable 
of noting anything but the most obvious and 
the most trivial of the superficialities of every- 
day life, so that our reason loses its faculty for 
moving among those loftier realities from 
which alone our spirit can derive tresh light 
and strength ! It is not necessary for our high- 

84 



PARSONS 



est welfare that we should all become philoso- 
phers and metaphysicians; far from it; but 
it is necessary that we should all keep alive in 
us and develop the noblest and most distinc- 
tive faculty of our human nature, the faculty 
for spiritual life, the ability to hold conscious 
communion with the God in whom we live and 
move and have our being. Yet this faculty, 
like every other faculty of our complex na- 
ture, will fail and die if it be not exercised. 
If we would live as men should live and make 
progress to our divinely appointed goal, we 
must at aU costs keep alive that power of ours 
by which we can pierce beyond the things of 
sense, the material and the transitory, and fix 
our gaze on the things unseen beyond, the re- 
alities of the spiritual world which are eternal. 
If this faculty of ours is left to die, if we al- 
low ourselves to live entirely in the light of 
common day, then all hope for us of real prog- 
ress is over, for then the very conditions of 
human progress as such are destroyed. The 
old proverb is true which says, ** Where there 
is no vision the people perish." 

Can it be said for us to-day that there is no 
vision, that the people are perishing for lack 
of it ? Look out on modem life, with its daily 
multiplying complexities. Surely if ever 
there was a time when each one of us needed 
some great constraining ideal to govern our 
conduct it is now ! Have we got one ? Surely, 
if ever the people as a whole should be crying 

85 



MODERN SERMONS 



out for a guiding flash of light from the bea- 
con of eternal truth it is now ! Has society as 
a whole, has the nation, a heavenly vision to 
Which to be obedient ? There is little time for 
rest nowadays, for leisure and quiet thought, 
and even when that time comes the iron grip 
of our work-a-day life seems not to relax. It 
has seized on the very fibers of our minds and 
forced and cramped them into its own re- 
stricted molds, so that outside of them our 
thought moves but feebly and soon grows 
tired ; if noble works of literature, and above 
all the Bible, are less consistently and less 
sympathetically read than they used to be, the 
fault is not in them, but in the people who do 
not read them, or rather in the character of 
the civilization and the conditions of life that 
have made them weU-nigh incapable of sus- 
tained and serious interests. Look at the ad- 
vertisements on our boardings, look at the 
scrappy superficialities of the popular press. 
Think of the names of the books which are 
most read in our public libraries. Think of 
the kind of play which is financially the most 
successful in our theaters. How shallow, how 
superficial is all the stuff which alone seems 
capable of attracting men's attention nowa- 
days! How quickly we tire and turn away 
from anything that might lead us to think of 
something beyond this vanity of vanities! 
Not only of the vast crowds of those who never 
enter a place of worship is this true. Those 

86 



PARSONS 



of lis who come to church, who profess more 
or less seriously to identify ourselves with the 
cause of religion, are we escaping unspotted 
from this plague of superficiality? Our im?- 
patience of theologies, our dislike of dogmas, 
our clamoring for shorter sermons and still 
shorter prayers — how much of it is due to a 
really earnest searching after truth, to a real 
advance in appreciative power for the deeper 
things of life ? 

Let us be honest with ourselves. Do we stiU 
keep a time every day for quiet thought, for 
serious reading, for careful meditation and 
prayer? Are we still conscious of possessing 
a constant power in our souls that is strong 
enough to pierce through the husk of outward 
happenings to the inward heart of things! 
Has nature for us still its old glamorous 
charm, can it still waken in us the sense of a 
world of order and beauty that abides un- 
moved through all the ravages of change and 
decay? Or is it true that in spite of our im- 
proved education, our cheaper luxuries, our 
many inventions, we are most of us less highly 
endowed with the faculty of spiritual insight 
than was many a simpler soul in a simpler 
civilization? Nay, because of the progress in 
the material side of our civilization and the 
restlessness it brings into our lives, it becomes 
even harder for us to find the time and the 
strength and the concentration to turn from 
the things that are passing away and to cleave 



87 



MODERN SERMONS 



to the things that abide. We have not the 
time to see visions, and consequently the de- 
sire to see them is dying out of our hearts. 

Walking through barren signs we feast, it is true, 

our eyes, 
But little the soul divines what lurks under form's 

disguise; 
To us the earth is a book whose writings we cannot 

read; 
Although in the page we look, our eyes still mock at 

our need. 

Where there is no vision the people perish. 
We need all of us, each one of us, a vision, or 
we die. Our text brings before us the story of 
the greatest vision ever given to the mind and 
heart of man, the vision of Jesus Christ's 
transfiguration. Are we content to leave that 
vision aside as something that happened long 
ago on a distant moimtain to some men who 
have been for centuries in their graves ? Have 
we ever yet tried to make our own, a real and 
living experience in our lives, the vision of 
Jesus Christ transfigured? What is Jesus 
Christ to us ? Is He only a figure of the far 
distant past, a person of whom we are content 
to know that He lived in an eastern land some 
nineteen himdred years ago, that He taught 
the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of 
men, that He came into collision with the re- 
ligious and political authorities of His time 
and was put to death, but that His followers 
declared that they had known. Him alive after 

88 



PARSONS 



His death, and persuaded others to believe 
Him to have risen and to be indeed divine, the 
Son of God — a belief which is still profest by 
those who are after Him called Christians? 

That is about as much as many to-day know, 
or care to know, about Jesus Christ, many 
who have had an education and are very up-to- 
date. If that is all our knowledge of Him 
amounts to it will not help us very much. 
Such an answer to the question we all have to 
answer, * * What think ye of Christ ? " is about 
as trivial and as superficial as it well could be. 
The discovery of who and what He really is 
will not colue to us if we are content with 
such information as that. No; it requires 
time and patient thought and careful testing, 
it requires enthusiasm to get to the heart of 
the truth about Him. We must begin the toil- 
some climbing up the moimtain side whither 
He leads us as He led the disciples of old, up 
out of the trivialities of our little self -centered 
lives, beyond the insufficient and misleading 
view of things which we get while we remain 
on the flat, narrow-bounded plain of our daily 
tasks and momentary amusements. All the 
life down there we must leave behind, we must 
lose it — that life which so many of us feel to be 
our only life. His words are plain : * * Whoso- 
ever will save his life shall lose it ; whosoever 
will lose his life for my sake shall find it." 
For His sake! We must lose our old self- 
centered lives in our zeal for that life in Him, 

89 



MODERN SERMONS 



which is higher and greater and better; by 
practical experiment and careful thought puz- 
zle out the secret of His hard sayings, pushing 
up along the steep and narrow way with Him, 
till at last light breaks through the darkness 
and He is transfigured before us, and we see 
Him whom we have been following, no longer 
merely the Prophet of Nazareth, the Teacher 
of long ago, the object of other men's worship, 
but clearly revealed to our own spirit's gaze 
in a radiance that is not of this world — ^the fa- 
miliar story of His life illuminated with a new 
and dazzling light that shows us that He who 
told us to take, up the cross and follow Him, 
to lose our lives for His sake if we would find 
them was no mere utterer of precepts, no mere 
proclaimer of doctrines, but Himself through 
life and death, verily and indeed the true em- 
bodiment, the one and only incarnation for us 
men and for our salvation of that eternal life 
and love — ^that what He is God Himself is. 

If once we have seen this then we have had 
a vision that can never wholly fade away, a 
vision that will lighten all our lives. Jesus, 
our Lord and our Qod, will have given us 
something of that power of His by which He 
makes aU things new. His own gift of vision 
will be ours, and in His light shall we see light, 
and our souls will live and grow and thrive in 
it. "We shall see more and more the world as 
He saw it, and the splendid promise in all cre- 
ation. We shall come to see ourselves and our 

90 



PARSONS 



fellow men as He sees us — ^beings who, in spite 
of sin and weakness and ignorance, have 
nevertheless that in them which can be de- 
veloped and come to the perfect man, the 
measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. 
And this most heartening vision of the 
transfiguration of man in the light of the 
transfiguration of Christ, so far from making 
us unpractical, restless people, will enable us 
to become, like our Master, enthusiasts for 
humanity, bearing one another's burdens, and 
so fulfilling His law and taking up with Him 
the cross on which humanity is lifted up to 
God. "We need a vision, a vision that shall 
transfigure for us the world, and make it 
bright with the light of heaven. The only 
vision which can do that is the vision of Jesus 
Christ, the certainty that within Him dwells 
all the power and love of God. But that vi- 
sion is not granted to us all at once. We must 
wonder and question and think and pray, as 
His first disciples did. We must go apart 
with Jesus, up, as it were, into a mountain, 
where we may forget for awhile the turmoil 
of our daily life in quietness and solitude. 
Among the beauties of hill and wood and sea 
and field withdraw apart awhile. Look into 
your own soul and see its darkness, and you 
wiU cry for light. Look at Jesus Christ as the 
gospel story brings Him before you, enter into 
communion with Him in prayer and sacra- 
ment, ponder over His way of life, try and 

91 



MODERN SERMONS 



follow it yourself in the quiet days while you 
have time to think before you act. Persevere 
and be sure if you seek you will find. Our 
Lord will reveal Himself to you in His great 
beauty. You will see Him, the divine life of 
your life, the soul of your soul, the Christ in 
you the hope of glory. And having seen the 
radiance on the mount of vision, when you 
have to return to the plain, again, and the 
crowds, and the toil below, and work begins 
once more, you will carry with you that which 
none can take from you, the gift, Christ's gift, 
of vision. And lifting up your eyes you will 
see still close to you, and more to you than 
ever He was before, Jesus, Jesus only. And 
seeing Him, you will arise and not be afraid. 



PATON 
THE GREATEST QUESTION 



LEWIS BAYLES PATON 

Professor of Old Testament exegesis and 
criticism, and instructor in the Assyrian 
language in Hartford Theological Semi- 
nary; bom in New York City, June 27, 
1864; educated in the high schools of 
Des Moines and Keokuk, Iowa, and in 
Parson's College, Fairfield, Iowa; gradu- 
ated from the University of New York 
in 1884 with the degree of B.A.; spent 
three years in study and travel in 
Europe; student in Princeton Theological 
Seminary, 1887-90; Old Testament fellow 
of the same for two years which were 
spent in Berlin, Germany ; Ph.D., Univer- 
sity of Marbui^, Germany, 1897; D.D., 
University of New York, 1906; director 
of the American school of Oriental Study 
and Research in Jerusalem, 1903,4; au- 
thor of " The Early History of Syria and 
Palestine," " Jerusalem in Bible Times," 
" Esther " in " International Critical 
Commentary," editor of "Recent Chris- 
tian Progress." 



THE GREATEST QUESTION 
Prof. Lewis B. Paton, Ph.D., D.D. 
'* Who say ye that I am? "—Matt. 16 : 15. 

Christ's question, ** Who say ye that I 
am? '' is so familiar that we do not al- 
ways realize its extraordinary charac- 
ter. Why should He ask His disciples who 
He was? Was not that perfectly apparent 
to everybody? So thought the Jews in His 
day, when they said, ** We know this man 
whence he is '* (John 7 : 27). ** Is not this 
the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called 
Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joseph, 
and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are 
they not all with us ? (Matt. 13 : 55 f .) . Other 
religious teachers and leaders have not felt 
constrained to ask this question of their dis- 
ciples. In spite of their genius and the dig- 
nity that their message conferred upon them, 
they have understood that they differed so 
little from the rest of mankind that it would 
be absurd for them to ask, Who say ye that I 
am ? But Jesus was conscious of a mysterious 
something about Himself that differentiated 
Him from all other men, and that made it 
imperative for Him to put this question ; and 
so, from beginning to end of His ministry, we 
find Him directing the attention of His dis- 

95 



MODERN SERMONS 



ciples not so much to His doctrine as to His 
person. He does not say, ** Come to my way 
of thinking," but, ** Come unto me '*; not, 
'* Follow my rule of life," but, '' Follow thou 
me "; not, ** What say ye of my doctrine? " 
but, '* Who say ye that I am? " 

No less extraordinary than the question of 
Jesus is the way in which men everywhere 
have felt compelled to answer this question. 
If other men should put this question to us, 
we should pay no attention, to it. We are 
under no compulsion to define the other great 
teachers and leaders of humanity, and to come 
to a decision in regard to their claims; but 
there has always been a strange power about 
this question of Jesus. Men cannot escape it, 
they cannot ignore it. Those to whom it first 
came were obliged to give it an answer of some 
sort, and throughout the succeeding centuries, 
wherever the story of the gospel has been told, 
men have been constrained to say to them- 
selves. Who is this Jesus of Nazareth, what is 
He, and what is His claim upon me ? 

The gospel narrative shows us four answers 
to Jesus' question that were given by the men 
of His own day. They are representative of 
the answers that men have been giving ever 
since. 

First, there was the answer of the scribes 
and the Pharisees. They were the religious 
leaders of the nation, the makers of public 
opinion. They had long been considering this 

96 



PATON 

question of Jesus, and their minds were fully 
made up as to the answer tnat they should 
give to it. They said, He is an impostor, ** He 
deceiveth the people.'* They were sure that 
they were correct in their ideas about religion, 
and when they learned that He differed from 
them, they at once pronounced Him a heretic. 
They laid emphasis upon the ritual command- 
ments of the law, but Jesus emphasized the 
message of the prophets, ** I desire mercy and 
not sacrifice, and the love of God rather than 
burnt offerings"; and He denounced the 
scribes and the Pharisees as hypocrites, who 
bound heavy burdens around the necks of 
other men, but who would not touch them 
with one of their fingers. This was enough to 
convince them that He was a dangerous char- 
acter, who ought to be put out of the way lest 
He should pervert the minds of the people. 
When their attention was called to His heal- 
ings of those diseased in mind or in body, they 
said, *' He casteth out devils through Beelze- 
bub, the prince of the devils '' (Matt. 12 : 24). 
Tliis answer of the religious authorities of 
Jesus' day to His -question concerning Him- 
self has been the answer of oflBcial Judaism 
ever since. The Talmud, that huge repository 
of Jewish thought during the first six cen- 
turies of our era, has only scorn for Jesus as 
an arch-heretic who caused a great apostasy 
from the religion of Moses. Down to our own 
day the common Jewish name for Him has 

vn--7 97 



MODERN SERMONS 



been the contemptuous title ** he who was 
hung/' which expresses the thought that He 
suflfered justly as a deceiver of mankind. In 
modem times, however, Judaism has come for 
the most part to take a higher view of Him 
and, outside of Judaism, the view that He was 
an impostor has been exceedingly rare. Two 
centuries ago, at the time of the French *' il- 
lumination,'' there were some who regarded 
all religious teachers as impostors, Jesus along 
with the rest ; and who were ready to say of 
Him with Voltaire, ** Crush the wretch." 
There may be some to-day who hold this view ; 
but if there are such, they exert little influ- 
ence in the world of thought. 

Second, there was the answer of a few of 
the Jewish leaders. Men like Nicodemus and 
Joseph of Arimathea were not willing to pro- 
nounce Jesus an impostor, but regarded Him 
rather as a great religious teacher. When 
Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, he said to 
him, '* Eabbi, we know that thou art a teacher 
come from (Jod." That is to say, he regarded 
Him as an expounder of the law like himself, 
and was willing to admit that He possest 
both genius and truth in His views concerning 
religion and ethics. 

This has been the attitude of the heathen 
world in general. The Greeks and the Romans 
would have been quite willing to admit Jesus 
to a place among their own wise men, philoso- 
Pbers, and poets, and to have adopted many 

98 



PATON 

of His teachings, if the early Church had 
made no higher claim for Him than that He 
was a teacher, like the world's other great 
teachers. The people of India, China, and 
Japan are willing to-day to accept Jesus on 
the same basis. They wUl put Him alongside 
of Buddha and Confucius, but they will not 
accord Him a higher place. This is the atti- 
tude also of modem liberal Judaism. It re- 
gards Jesus as a great and a good man, one of 
the rabbis, like Hillel or Gamaliel, who taught 
men how to keep the law of Moses, and who 
did not differ essentially from other teachers 
of Judaism. This is also the common opinion 
of most men who to-day stand outside of the 
Christian Church. They have no doubt of 
Jesus' purity or of His sincerity. They think 
that He uttered many noble ethical maxims 
which are worthy of obedience, but they can 
see no essential difference between Him and 
Socrates, or Plato, or Mohammed, or Dante, 
or Shakespeare. 

Third, there was the answer of the mass of 
the common people in the time of Christ. 
When Jesus said to Peter, '* Who do men say 
that the Son of man is? " Peter replied, 
** Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; 
and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.'' 
The Book of Malachi had predicted that Eli- 
jah should return, to turn the hearts of the 
fathers to the children, and the hearts of the 
children to the fathers ; and many of the peo- 

99 



MODERN SERMONS 



pie thought that this prediction was fulfilled 
in Jesus. Others noticed that He came with 
the same message as John the Baptist, '' Re- 
pent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at 
hand," and they concluded that John had 
come to life again. Others thought that He 
most resembled Jeremiah, and still others did 
not try to identify Him with a particular 
character of the Old Testament, but said 
simply. He is one of the prophets ; that is, they 
recognized in Him a divine inspiration that 
lifted Him above all ordinary teachers, but 
they could not see that He differed in any es- 
sential way from Moses, or Elijah, or Isaiah, 
or any of the other prophets of the Old Cove- 
nant. 

This view concerning Jesus has been widely 
prevalent at different times in the Christian 
Church. It is the view of our Unitarian 
brethren, and of large numbers in other de- 
nominations. They see that Jesus is more 
than an ordinary sage, that a special divine 
illumination must be recognized in Him, but 
they can see no fundamental distinction be- 
tween Him and other prophets whom from 
time to time God has raised up to bring a mes- 
sage to men. 

Fourth, there was the answer of Peter and 
the other apostles. When, after asking, 
'* Who say men that I am? " Jesus contin- 
ued, ** But who say ye that I amt *' Peter 
as the spokesman of the Twelve replied, 

100 



PATON 

'* Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living 
God/' That is to say, he recognized in Jesus 
the fulfilment of all the Old Testament pre- 
dictions concerning the coming of a glorious 
personage, endued with the sevenfold spirit 
of God, who should appear in the name and in 
the majesty of God to overcome the enemies 
of Israel, to destroy sin, and to establish the 
kingdom of righteousness, peace, and truth 
for evermore upon earth ; and more than this, 
he recognized in Him such a unique relation 
to God, that it was possible to speak of Him 
as *' the Son of the living God *' in a sense 
in which it was possible to speak of no other 
man. 

This was the view of the early Church when 
it went forth to conquer the world for Jesus. 
It was the view of Paul, the apostle of the 
Gentiles, and it has been the view of the great 
multitude of Christians in all ages since. 

These, then, were the answers that men 
gave to Jesus' question, '* Who say ye that I 
am ? "at the time when that question was first 
put ; and they are the answers that men have 
been giving ever since. The fact that there 
are so many different replies cannot fail to 
perplex the thoughtful mind. If even the 
men of Christ's own day could not agree in 
regard to Him, and if ever since men have not 
been able to agree, how can we hope in these 
latter days to answer this question with cer- 
tainty for ourselves? The problem is formid- 

101 



MODERN SERMONS 



able, but much light is shed upon it when we 
consider who the people were that gave these 
different answers to Christ's question, and ob- 
serve that those who gave the lowest defini- 
tion were those who faiew least about Him, 
and that those who gave the highest definition 
were those who knew most about Him. Let 
us look at each of the answers from this point 
of view. 

Those who pronounced Jesus an impostor 
were the scribes and the Pharisees who knew 
little or nothing about Him except that He 
did not agree with their views. They would 
have scorned to have stood with the common 
crowd in the market-place, or on the sea-shore, 
and to have listened to His words. That 
would have been as strange as for an arch- 
bishop to sit at the feet of a street preacher of 
the Salvation Army. They would not follow 
Jesus about from town to town to hear all that 
He had to say and to see all His wonderful 
works. It was enough for them to know that 
He did not agree with them for them to con- 
demn Him; they did not find it necessary to 
look more closely into His doctrine. They had 
their paid spies out watching Him, and they 
sent some of their number from time to time 
to propound questions through which they 
hoped He would be entrapped into saying 
something that could be construed as blas- 
phemy or treason; but, beyond the garbled 
stories that these emissaries brought back, 

102 



PATON 

they had no knowledge of Him. These blind, 
prejudiced men, who had no first-hand knowl- 
edge of Jesns, and whose sole effort was to 
destroy Him, were the only ones who pro- 
nounced Him an impostor. Their opinion is 
of little importance in the matter. 

Those who pronounced Jesus a great 
teacher were the men who knew a little more 
about Him. They felt that it was unfair to 
condemn anyone without a hearing, and they 
resolved to investigate the young teacher of 
Galilee on their own behalf. Men like Nico- 
demus came to Him by night to learn more 
about His doctrine; and as they listened to 
Him, and saw the nobility of His thought and 
the sincerity of His purpose, they became con- 
vinced that, whatever else He was. He was not 
an impostor. No man could teach as He 
taught unless He were good and true. Ac- 
cordingly, with their more perfect knowledge, 
they felt compelled to give up the theory of 
their associates that Jesus was a deceiver, and 
to advance the theory that He was a pious 
rabbi sent by God to help men understand 
and keep the law. 

Those who pronounced Jesus a prophet 
were the multitude that accompanied Him 
from town to town. They had heard all of 
His sermons, they had seen all of His mighty 
deeds, they knew Him far more completely 
than the timid rabbis who came to Him only 
occasionally by night. They knew Him better 

103 



MODERN SERMONS 



than any others, except the inner circle of the 
Twelve ; and, in the light of that fuller faiowl- 
edge, they saw that they could not stop short 
witii the theory that He was only a great 
teacher. No man could speak as He spoke, no 
man could do the miracles of healing that He 
did, unless Gk>d were with Him in a peculiar 
way. They saw that He spoke with authority, 
and not as the scribes; that they could not 
clarify Him among the rabbis whose business 
it was to expound an already given law, but 
that they must at least recognize Him as 
standing on an equality with the prophets of 
the Old Covenant as one enlightened in pecul- 
iar measure by the Spirit of God. 

Those who pronounced Jesus the Messiah, 
the Son of the living God, were the Twelve, 
who knew Jesus with an intimacy that is with- 
out a parallel in the history of human rela- 
tionships. They were His constant compan- 
ions throughout the whole of His ministry. 
T<^ther they trudged with Him over the 
dusty roads of Syria, beneath the blazing light 
of an xmclouded sun. Together they watched 
with Him on the lonely mountainside in the 
cold Syrian nights. They saw Him in the 
hour of triumph and in the hour of apparent 
defeat They saw Him at the wedding-feast 
and by the bedside of the dying, in joy and in 
sorrow, in str^igth and in weakness, in health 
and in sickn^s, by day and by night. Every 
phase of His thou^t and character was ^onil- 

104 



PATON 

iar to them, and through all, the wonderful 
impression was made upon them that He was 
a sinless man. One of them speaking of Him 
said^**:He was holy, harmless, undefiled, sep- 
arate from sinners "; and another said, ** He 
was tempted in all points like as we are, yet 
without sin." Other men may have been 
saints to the world at large, but never to their 
intimate associates. The members of their 
families, their close companions, their serv- 
ants, have been only too well aware of their 
shortcomings. But these associates of Jesus, 
who had the opportunity to watch Him so 
closely, could find no flaw in Him. 

We cannot say that they esteemed Him thus 
highly because their standards of judgment 
were low. They were Jews, who had been 
trained in the righteousness of the law and of 
the prophets, and that was no low sort of 
righteousness. Besides, they had been under 
the tuition of Jesus Himself, and no one ever 
set the standard of conduct so high as He. He 
taught that righteousness consisted in the 
inner state of the heart, rather than in the 
outer act, and He said to His disciples, *' Ex- 
cept your righteousness shall exceed the right- 
eousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, ye 
shall in no wise see the kingdom of God." 
Judged by His own lofty standard they found 
Him faultless. 

Nor can we say that the standard of the age 
in which the first disciples lived was a low one, 

105 



MODERN SERMONS 



and that, judged by the higher standards of 
our own day, Jesus does not stand the test. 
This is true of many other teachers of the 
Church. Luther, in spite of all his glorious 
service, was a rough, violent man, for many of 
whose acts his followers need to apologize. 
Calvin, in spite of all the good that he did, 
burnt Servetus at the stake ; and many a loyal 
Calvinist of to-day would give his right hand 
if he could blot tiiat deed from the page of his- 
tory. But in the life of Jesus there is nothing 
for which His followers need to apologize. 
The ages have come and have gone, mankind 
has progressed wonderfully in the arts and the 
sciences, but no higher moral ideal has been 
attained than that exprest in His life. Par 
from being left behind by the advance of civi- 
lization. He still remains the unattained ethi- 
cal ideal toward which the world is struggling. 
The verdict of the first disciples has been the 
verdict of each succeeding age. As we study" 
closely the story of His life recorded in the 
gospels, we are constrained to aclupwledge 
with those who knew Him so intimately that 
He was a sinless man. 

Recognizing the sinlessness of Jesus, the 
^nvelye were forced to give some explanation 
*v. \^*^*' ^^ *^^y ^^ clearly that all the 
other theories that were held in their day were 
madequate to explain the personaUty of their 
^^er. A sinless man could not be an im- 
postor. A sinless man was more than a great 



PATON 

teacher, more even than a prophet of the Old 
Testament, for the prophets were men of like 
passions with ourselves. The unblemished 
purity of Jesus they could explain only by 
recognizing that He stood in a relation to God 
different from that held by any other man, 
that God was manifest in Him in a unique 
way, that He was one with the Father in a 
unique sense; and, therefore, when Jesus 
solemnly put the question to them, " Who say 
ye that I am? '' the only answer that they 
could give was, ** Thou art the Messiah, the 
Son of the living God." 

Intimate as was the relation of the Twelve 
to Jesus, there was one who knew Him even 
better than they, and that one was Jesus Him- 
self. Long before the mystery of His sinless- 
ness had dawned upon them it had dawned 
upon Him, and had prest for an interpreta- 
tion. Prom earliest childhood He had been 
conscious of an unbroken fellowship with God, 
which enabled Him to look up and say, '' My 
Father," in a way that none of us can say, 
who bear in our consciences the burden of sin. 
At His baptism in Jordan He had heard a 
voice saying, " Thou art my beloved Son in 
whom I am well pleased." In the wilderness 
He was subjected to the three chief tempta- 
tions to which men fall a prey, and was victo- 
rious. Throughout His life He never once 
knew an interruption of perfect communion 
with His Father, and He was able to pray, 

107 



MODERN SERMONS 



'* Father I know that thou hearest me al- 
ways." Many of Jesus' prayers are recorded 
for us in the gospels, but in no one of them do 
we find the note of contrition that is so funda- 
mental in the prayers of all other holy men. 
Judged by His own lofty standard of charac- 
ter, He could find no sin to confess. Other re- 
ligious leaders have prayed often with their 
disciples, and have taught them by example 
how they ought to pray, but there is no record 
that Jesus ever prayed with His disciples. He 
could not do so, because He could not join in 
the cry of penitence that must be the first 
word of the petition of other men. To His dis- 
ciples He said, '* After this manner pray ye, 
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debt- 
ors,'* but He never joined in that prayer, for 
He knew that He had no sin to confess. Even 
at the end of His life, when the shadows were 
closing in about Him, and He knew that the 
cross stood immediately before — even then we 
see no sign of contrition. In the presence of 
death, if never before, other men are con- 
strained to cry out, *' God be merciful to me 
a sinner "; but, instead of that, we find Jesus 
praying, *' I have glorified thee on the earth, 
I have finished the work which thou gavest 
me to do. And now, Father, glorify thou 
me with the glory which I had with thee be- 
fore the world was " (John 17 : 4). 

It was this consciousness of sinlessness that 
forced home upon Jesus the same question 

108 



PATON 

that He put to His disciples, " Who say ye 
that I am? *' and, long before they had been 
able to give an answer to that question, He 
had answered it for Himself. He knew that 
His sinlessness and unbroken fellowship with 
God could have no explanation except that, in 
a unique way, true of no other man. He was 
one with the Father. Long before the con- 
fession of Peter He had said to Himself, 
'* Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living 
God." But He did not force this conviction 
upon His disciples. Faith that rested merely 
upon His authority would have little value. 
He wished rather to have His followers reach 
this conclusion for themselves on the basis of 
their own observation ; then their faith would 
be a possession that could not be taken from 
them. Accordingly, He waited until the very 
end of His ministry before He called upon 
them to decide who He was. After they had 
heard all His gracious words, after they had 
seen all His miracles, after they had come to 
know Him under every circumstance of life, 
then, when all the evidence that He had to 
offer was in. He turned solemnly to them and 
said, '* Who say ye that I am? '' and when 
Peter as the spokesman of the Twelve replied, 
** Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living 
God," that answer came as no surprise to 
Jesus. We do not find Him putting it away 
from Him as a temptation, and saying to 
Peter, *' No Peter, you must not speak of me 

109 



MODERN SERMONS 



in that way/' Nor do we jSnd Him dallying 
with the thought, as something in regard to 
which He Himself was in perplexity, and say- 
ing to Peter, ** Do you really think that I am 
so great a personage as thatf '' Instead of 
this, we find only the prompt and glad accept- 
ance of the confession, as of something that 
He had long hoped to hear, ** Blessed art thou 
Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood hath 
not revealed it unto thee, but my Father 
which is in heaven. . • • Upon this rock I. 
will build my Church and the gates of Hades 
shall not prevail against it." 



110 



PEABODY 
THE OPENING DOORS 



FRANCIS GREENWOOD PEABODY 

Plummer professor of Christian Morals, 
Harvard University, since 1886; bora in 
Boston in 1847; graduated, Harvard, 
1869; Harvard Divinity School, 1872; 
pastor of First Parish church, Cambridge, 
1874-80; Parlanan professor of theology. 
Harvard Divinity School, 1880-86; author 
of "Mornings in the College Chapel,'* 
" Short Addresses to Young Men on Per- 
sonal Religion," "Founder's Day at Hamp- 
ton,'' " Afternoons in the College Chapel," 
"Jesus Christ and the Social Question," 
** Religion of an Educated Man," " Jesus 
Christ and the Christian Character," etc 



THE OPENING DOORS 

Prop. Francis G. Peabody, D.D., LL.D. 

" I am the door," — John 10 : 7. 

THERE are two kinds of religion, which 
make their appeal to opposite sides of 
human life. The two religions have the 
same source, but they move in opposite direc- 
tions, like two streams which have their 
springs on the same mountain but flow down 
different slopes to different seas. One kind of 
religion thinks of life as at rest; the other 
kind thinks of life as in motion. One is the 
answer to the prayer for peace; the other is 
the answer to the prayer for power. One is 
the religion of repose ; the other is the religion 
of action. One is the religion of age; the 
other of youth. According to (me, Jesus says: 
*' Come unto me aU ye that labor, and I will 
give you rest "; according to the other, He 
says: *' If any man will come after me, let 
him take up his cross and follow." Accord- 
ing to one, the great word of the New Testa- 
ment is the saying: ** I am the truth "; ac- 
cording to the other, the most persuasive mes- 
sage of Jesus is the saying: ** I am the door." 
Both of these ways of religion are real. What 
many a tired life desires is rest after pain, re- 
lief from care, a place of safety from the troub- 

VII— 8 113 



MODERN SERMONS 



les of the world ; and to such a life the peace- 
ful secnrity of a Christian faith opens like a 
quiet harbor of refuge after anxious days of 
tossing storm. But there are many lives 
which do not crave this sense of security. On 
the contrary, the desire to retreat from life, 
the anxious search for a harbor, is precisely 
what makes religion seem to many healthy, 
happy lives uninteresting and remote — ^appro- 
priate for the weak, the discouraged, or the 
dying, but not for the young, the strong, and 
the brave. What their lives want is not rest, 
but motion ; not idleness, but usefulness ; not 
a harbor of refuge, but the large adventures of 
the open sea. You watch a battered wreck as 
it is towed into the harbor, and you say, 
** Take her to some safe dock, and moor her 
where no storm can come, for she is too 
weather-beaten to leave port; '* but when you 
see a well-built vessel stan<Ung out into the 
bay you say, " There goes a craft which can 
laugh at storms; her mission is not to rest, 
but to move ; her captain asks, not a dock to 
lie in, but a course to steer and a port to reach 
some day.'* It is a picture of the undiscour- 
aged, expectant, normal human life, not yet 
resigned to the religion of age, but askmg 
further guidance into the unexplored, the un- 
revealed, the perilous yet beckoning unknown. 
To such a life comes this promise, more than 
once repeated, and issuing n-om the last hours 
of the life of Jesus: '^ I am the door. 



114 



PEABODY 



Through me men enter into their larger life. 
I am the way. I give the course to steer. I 
open the gate of opportunity. My gospel is 
not one of peace alone, but one of progress 
and power." This is the aspect of the teach- 
ing of Jesus to which we turn to-day. It is 
not the whole gospel. It is not the message of 
religion to the tired, the aged, the sinners, or 
the mourners: but it is the answer to the 
wholesome, natural desire of many an eager, 
questioning, restless, unsatisfied, hesitating, 
self -distrustful, youthful life. 

* * I am the door ! " It is curious to see how 
often the progress of life through the succes- 
sive incidents of experience is like the passing 
from one room to another of some ample house 
through a succession of opening doors. You 
enter one room and the door closes behind 
you, and there seems no way out; but while 
you seem thus shut in, another door unexpect- 
edly opens before you, and you go on into a 
larger room beyond. This, for instance, is 
the story of each step in education. A child 
is shut in among the first principles of his 
task, and it seems to him a narrow, restricted, 
penal experience, from which he longs to be 
set free. What are these tiresome rules of 
grammar, he asks, these exercises of composi- 
tion, these preposterous problems of rooms to 
paper and cord-wood to measure, but parts of 
a prison discipline ingeniously devised to re- 
press the spirits of a healthy boy? Is it not 

115 



MODERN SERMONS 



all, as one child said of learning the alphabet, 
going through a great deal to get very little ? 
Then, in some happy hour, under the touch of 
some real teacher, or through the inspiration 
of some book or thought or friend, these ab- 
stractions of education become transformed 
into realities. A door opens from this un- 
meaning discipline into significaace, mastery, 
progress; and the child looks through that 
door into the larger room of usefulness, accu- 
racy, science, insight, joy, to which the ante- 
chamber of these unwelcome tasks is now seen 
to be the only way. 

The same story may be told of the higher 
education. A youth passes from the compul- 
sion of the schoolroom to the liberty of the 
university, and there confronts him the prob- 
lem of the choice of studies. The vast di- 
versity of the elective system lies before him 
with its confusing abundance, and he is be- 
wildered by the sudden expansion of his 
intellectual life. When, however, he considers 
more seriously the problem of choice, this 
sense of liberty is changed into a new sense of 
limitation. What is this increase of freedom 
but a new form of compulsion? Liberty to 
choose many subjects means necessity to 
choose a few. Here and there in the world of 
scholarship are regions which he may enter, 
but there remains many an alluring field of 
study which he cannot hope to explore. Many 
a door must be left unopened, and many an- 

116 



PEABODY 



other passed barely beyond the threshold, if 
he woiid advance with any confidence into his 
special pursuit. What a shut-in experience, 
then, the liberty of the modem scholar comes 
to be ! What has become of that earlier tra- 
dition of a symmetrical culture which marked 
the gentleman of two generations ago — ^the 
education which could embellish taU: with 
quotations from the classics, which knew 
something of many things instead of every- 
thing of something of which no one else knew 
even the name ? How narrow seems the field 
— say rather, the rut — of the modem student ; 
and with what a sigh he abandons the earlier 
ideal of a comprehensive culture under the 
compulsion of a specialized world! 

What is it, then, which can restore self- 
respect to modem scholarship ? It is the dis- 
covery that this world of spacious learning, 
this sense of amplitude and liberty, which 
seems at first shut out by the specialization of 
studies, is to be reached in no other way than 
through the narrow entrance of specialized 
work. The door, indeed, shuts behind one, as 
he turns to his chosen task, and shuts out many 
delightful undertakings which he abandons 
with regret. Concentration of attention be- 
comes the stem law of success ; but of a sud- 
den, out of the narrow room which he has 
entered, at some unanticipated point, like a 
secret passage in a solid rock, another door 
opens, out of limitation into eidargement, out 

117 



MODERN SERMONS 



of facts into principles, and the student dis- 
covers that the task which seemed restrictive 
is in fact the essential preliminary of insight, 
wisdom, and power. First the narrow passage 
of specialized mastery, then the opening door 
into the general law, the glimpse of the larger 
truth, the step into mastery — ^that is the way 
which the modem scholar has to go. 

The same experience meets one in more dra- 
matic fashion as he goes his further way into 
the world. A young man leaves college and 
looks about him in life for a work which is 
worth his doing and which he is fit to do, and 
the first impression which confronts him is of 
limitation and restriction ; the doubt whether 
there be any room left for such as he, the lack 
of any outlook toward a large, full, human 
kind of life. It is not that he demands much 
of the world. All he asks is what he calls an 
'* opening." *' Give me but a chance," he 
says, '* and I will take my chances." But the 
world's work shuts him in between the walls 
of some confining task, and with a sense of 
hopelessness he surrenders himself to its in- 
evitable routine and detail, as tho the one 
thing he could not have was the ** opening " 
he desires. He will not shirk even repressive 
obligations; he will try to believe in the dig- 
nity of labor, even when that labor is mechani- 
cal, insigiiificant, and dull ; but at the end of 
the day it ia as tho the silent figure of Life 
stood with its back against the door which 

118 



PEABODY 



leads to larger service, holding him off as he 
would force it open; and he cries out, ** Is 
this shut-in space all the room I am to have, 
and this meager opportunity the end to which 
my conscientious service leads f Oh, Life, 
that seems to mock me with thy silence, give 
me my chance! Open the dose-shut door! *' 
Then, one day, in a manner altogether unan- 
ticipated and incalculable, this man's chance 
arrives. The door opens, sometimes in quite 
another place from that which seems the open- 
ing he desires — ^not where the door seemed to 
be, but where the wall seemed blank and im- 
penetrable ; and the young man is called into 
the larger room, of which his restricted duty 
was the essential vestibule, and his fidelity to 
that duty the only key. You do the shut-in 
tlEusk and it opens into the larger opportunity; 
you face the limited duty and the larger duty 
discloses itself just beyond. The door beyond 
opens only as the door behind is shut. 
Straight is the gate and narrow is the way 
which leads to life. To him that is faithful 
in that which is least, that which is much is 
revealed ! That is what makes life so rich, so 
surprising, so romantic — ^that the little that is 
known is the gate of the greater unknown, and 
the little that one does makes it possible to do 
more. Sometimes these antechambers of ex- 
perience are mysterious and dark; and duty, 
sacrifice, sickness, close round one's chances 
of enlargement like prison-cells which shut in 

119 



MODERN SERMONS 



nearer and nearer as tho they were to 
crush one to death. But this is the miracle of 
many a shut-in experience — ^that in the black, 
hard wall as it approaches, there appears, 
first, a tiny beam of light, then a view beyond 
it to peace and hope, and then at last an open 
door, through which one sees as never before 
the meaning of life and passes into a use of 
life to which nothing but that dark approach 
could have disclosed the way. 

Such is the story of multitudes of lives — 
the surprising and miraculous story of life's 
opening doors. But now, suppose one sums 
up all these scattered incidents of experience, 
and thinks of the whole of life as thus con- 
sciously led from room to room, to richer gifts 
of opportunity and liberty, of duty and of 
beauty, what is this way of life which opens 
thus from door to door ? Why, this is nothing 
else than religion ; or more accurately, this is 
the first gift of the religion of Jesus Christ to 
the life of a young man in the modem world. 
It is often fancied that the religious life is a 
narrowing, restrictive, disciplinary experi- 
ence. You give up things ; you deny yourself ; 
you are shut in by pledges, by creeds, by 
priests; and then you are a Christian. Re- 
nunciation, '^ Entsagen," as Carlyle said, be- 
comes the great word of faith. The religious 
life, under such a definition, is not a thing in 
motion, but at rest; not a form of progress, 
but a way of peace. No greater mistake can 

120 



PEABODY 



be made about religion than to reduce it to 
this negative, ascetic, monastic state of mind. 
Submission, self-denial, resignation, are in- 
deed asked of every man some day; but the 
first appeal of the religion of Jesus Christ to 
normal and healthy youth is to the sense of 
power, initiative, action, and desire. It asks, 
first of all, not denial but affirmation; not re- 
nunciation but acceptance; not a retreat but 
an advance. ' * I am come, ' ' says Jesus, * * that 
they may have life and may have it abun- 
dantly." ** I am not come to destroy, but to 
fulfil. " It is not a soft and easy world which 
is thus offered, with no burdens to be borne. 
*' Take up thy cross," says Jesus, '* and fol- 
low! " But even this is a demand, not for 
resignation — ^as tho one lay limp and help- 
less before the cross of Christ — ^but for 
strength to take up one's cross like a man and 
follow, even tho stumblingly, where the way 
of the cross must go. The purpose of Jesus 
Christ is not to efface personality, but to dis- 
cover personality; not to save people out of 
the world, but to make people fit to save the 
world. ** Where the spirit of the Lord is, 
there is liberty." '* All things are yours." 
** I am the way." These are the great com- 
mands which reverberate through the New 
Testament — ^words of growth, enlargement, 
progress, power. Other aspects of the teach- 
ing of Jesus make their appeal to other moods, 
as one enters deeper among the experiences of 

121 



MODERN SERMONS 



life ; but the first word that meets the shnt-in, 
hesitating, self -distrustful life is the summons 
of Jesus that bids him to go forward : '^ I am 
the door/* 

And how is it, one goes on to ask, that relig- 
ion thus opens the doors of life f It does so, we 
must answer, in two ways: first by giving a 
new meaning to the world, and then by giving 
a new meaning to one's own life. It opens 
the door, that is to say, first into a larger uni- 
verse, and then into a deeper self. On the one 
hand are the g^eat number of thoughtful peo- 
ple who are bewildered by the mystery of an 
uninterpreted world. Here is this ceaseless 
whirl of material forces in which we are in- 
volved; this tragic struggle for physical ex- 
istence, these brutal competitions of the indus- 
trial world, this brief, vain incident of per- 
sonal life, with its little joys and sorrows, its 
ambitions and dreams, lifting themselves like 
a bright wave upon tiie ocean and in a mo- 
ment sinking back into the depth ; and the cry 
comes -from many a heart : TVTiat does all this 
meanf Has it any meaning? Is it, as some 
learned people tell us, a hollow, empty, delu- 
sive world, a tale told by an idiot, full of 
sound and fury, signifying nothing? Is it 
but a sport of the Eternal, where we are 

** Impotent pieces of the game he plays, 
Upon this checker-board of nights and days. 
Hither and thither moves and checks and slays, 
And one by one back in the cupboard laysf " 

122 



PEABODY 



What is it that gives meaning to the world 
and sets one in a rational universe of unity 
and purpose instead of chaos and despair ? It 
is the view which opens through the door of 
religion. Much there may be in the order of 
the universe which still remains baffling and 
mysterious, much postponement of knowledge 
in Gk)d's education of the human race. But 
what a step is taken toward sanity and self- 
control and peace of mind, when one looks 
upon the world as the scene of a spiritual in- 
tention and desire which give to its perplexing 
incidenjs their unity and worth! It is as 
tho the high stone wall which bounds the 
physical world opened into a gateway and one 
looked through to a path of sunlight and 
flowers. It may be one's part to stay and 
work and suffer between the walls of life, but 
it is easier to work and possible to bear, if one 
can hold the gate a little open, and keep the 
vista clear from the shadow to the sunshine, 
from the tasks of life to the vision of Gkni. 

And if this is true of one's view of the 
world, it is much more true of one's knowl- 
edge of himself. For one person that has 
come to doubt the meaning of the universe a 
hundred have come to doubt the meaning 
of their own lives. How meager, how super- 
ficial, how purposeless, is the petty experience 
within which one seems inevitably bound! 
How insignificant is its scope, how unimport- 
ant its consequences ! Why strive and agon- 

123 



MODERN SERMONS 



ize, why hope and scheme, as tho one were 
accomplishing and progressing and arriving, 
when in fact one is but the horse that turns 
the treadmill, whipt to his task in the ma- 
chine, but tied all day in the little pen that 
never moves. It is this sense of insignificance 
and impotency which robs a man of his faith 
and hope. It is sometimes said that young 
men in our day think too much of themselves ; 
and it would certainly be an exaggeration to 
aflBrm that the typical modem youth deserves 
the beatitude pronounced upon the poor in 
spirit. Yet the chief moral danger of such 
young lives does not lie, as many persons 
think, in their self-conceit, but in their self- 
distrust; not in thinking too much of them- 
selves, but in thinking too little of themselves. 
What they need is not so much ** taking 
down,'' as lifting up ; not so much a new self- 
reproach, as a new self-respect. To think too 
much of oneself may be a form of intoxication, 
but to think too little of oneself is a form of 
paralysis. To live in a shut-in universe is a 
philosophical misfortune; but to live in a 
shut-in soul is a moral tragedy. 

And what is it which lets one out from 
this sense of limitation and defeat? It is 
the sense of association with the purposes of 
God, the recognition of one's life as a 
part of the divine plan, the response of the 
child to the caU of the Father. You are 
not alone, because the Father is with you ; you 

124 



PEABODY 



are not helpless, because beneath you are the 
everlasting arms; you are not a failure, be- 
cause you are a laborer together with God; 
and an unexpected sense of capacity and ef- 
fectiveness is kindled as you commit yourself 
to a service which is not your own. You come 
to yourself and say: ** I will go to my 
Father/' That is the best gift of religion — 
the gift to the individual soul of faith in it- 
self. And what is this but the opening of a 
door — ^not outward into the larger world, but 
inward into the deeper self — so that one 
passes into an interior life of tranquillity, 
serenity, and praise. The religious life is 
like those Egyptian temples, which in their 
outer courts looked through great free vistas 
to the fertile fields and the deep blue sky ; but 
as the worshiper sought the central shrine, 
door after door swung open into interior 
rooms, until at last in a hush of solitude which 
no sound could penetrate and no fellow-wor- 
shiper could share, the single life bowed in 
the central sanctuary where it found its God. 
Such then is the first message of religion to 
an eager, forward-looking, undiscouraged, 
modem life — ^the message of expansion, lib- 
erty, spaciousness, horizon, hope. Sometimes 
a man asks what religion can do for him in so 
busy and real a world. It does not answer all 
our problems, or free us from our cares, or 
abolish our sorrows, or insure us against risk. 
Of what use, then, is religion, if it is not 

125 



MODERN SERMONS 



authoritative, condnsive, remedial — ^a rest for 
the saints T To such questions concerning the 
meaning of life Jesus, on the last day of His 
life, answers : " I am the door/' The normal, 
healthy, expectant life hears the summons to 
go forward and welcomes the guide who opens 
the door. What is it to live, but to pass from 
room to room of the great house of experience 
and to find each successive room more ample 
and satisfying ? What can one ask of life, but 
just a chance to enter the larger world and to 
know the hidden self? What is the great mis- 
take of life! It is to pause in the antecham- 
bers of experience and never know how spa- 
cious life may be. And when, from room to 
room, one's life has been led on and at last 
finds before it that final wall which we call 
death, what is it to die, but once more to have 
the wall open before one's wondering and ex- 
pectant eyes, and to hear the same voice that 
has led one through the doors of life, say: 
'* Let not your heart be troubled. In my 
Father's house are many mansions. I am the 
doorl" 



126 



PERRY 
COD'S IMAGE IN MAN 



ALFRED TYLER PERRY 

President of Marietta College since 
1900; bom of New England stock in 
G^neseo, HI., on August 19, 1858; pre- 
pared for college in the schools of North 
Adams, Mass., graduated from Williams 
College in 1880, and from Hartford Theo- 
logical Seminary in 1885; ordained in 
1886, and served Congregational churches 
in Springfield and Ware, Mass. ; professor 
of bibliology and librarian at Hartford 
Seminary, 1891-1900; DJ)., Williams 
College, 1901. 



GOD'S IMAGE IN MAN 
Pbes. Alfred T. Perry, D.D. 

" Whose i8 this image and superscription? " — ^Matt. 
22 : 20. 

THE Pharisees near the end of Jesus' life 
tried to ensnare Him by an awkward 
question regarding tribute. The Master 
eluded their snare by calling attention to a 
legal relation already established between the 
Jews and Caesar, which was witnessed by their 
use of Boman money. Caesar's right must 
therefore be acknowledged, as must every 
other of similar nature. ** Bender, therefore, 
unto Caesar the thin^ that are Caesar's; and 
unto God the things that are God's." The 
principle here appealed to by Jesus is one of 
wide application. Relations establish duties. 
The image and superscription are a constant 
reminder both of relation and of duty. 

This principle has application in many di- 
rections. Because we are citizens of this 
government we are bound by certain duties 
to that government. So long as we admit the 
relation we must assume the duty. So long 
as we seek its protection and enjoy its benefits, 
we are bound to perform the duties of citizen- 
ship. The citizen who evades taxes, who neg- 
lects to vote, who puts party above principle^ 

VII— 9 129 



MODERN SERMONS 



or selfish interest above the State, who cor- 
rupts the ballot, or perverts justice, or seeks 
by bribery to obtain favorable legislation, who 
cheats or plunders the public treasury, he by 
refusing duty is denying relation. To him the 
State owes nothing. He is an enemy, nay, a 
traitor, not a true citizen. If we call our- 
selves citizens we must assume the duties of 
citizenship. 

Again, we stand in certain relations to 
others. We are bound in social groups, to 
family, to neighbors, to business companions, 
to friends. These relations bring duties. He 
who demands his rights in these relations 
must be ready ^o fulfil all duties. Indeed too 
much emphasis upon rights means friction in 
all these relations. Emphasis upon duties 
means harmony and eflSciency. No man or 
woman has a right to enter into these relations 
seeking their benefits, without a readiness to 
perform all the duties resulting from them. 

True as are these applications and import- 
ant as they are for every individual, interest- 
ing as would be the further development of 
thought in these directions, I desire to call at- 
tention more in detail to another and I am 
persuaded the most important application. 

The latest word of science agrees with the 
first word of Genesis. *' In the beginning 
God created the heavens and the earth." 
Evolution cannot escape this creative begin- 
ning. Lord Kelvin has recently told us that 

130 



PERRY 

" science positively affirms creative power.'* 
Evolution may show us how through countless 
ages the myriad forms of matter and life 
have come to be, but back there at the start is 
that constant affirmation both of the latest 
science and of religion, '' In the beginning 
God/* Prom Him all things have come forth. 
But this is not all. The universe was not 
merely started in motion by a Creator; we 
are taught to-day that God who created is in 
His creation. The process of evolution itself 
cannot be independent of Him. '* In Him we 
live and move and have our being." All is 
a sort of self -revelation of God, the expres- 
sion of His mind, the working out of His plan. 
So both science and religion tttiite to-day in 
these affirmations, that all that is comes from 
God, and exists in God. Science, or rather 
the philosophy based on science, is learning 
now to spell out another lesson long taught by 
religion. As God is the source and support of 
all, so God must be the goal of all. This, I 
say, scientific philosophy herself is to-day dis- 
cerning. For, granted a continuous develop- 
ment through countless ages, what is the goal 
to be reached? The mind refuses to be satis- 
fied with an infinite projection in a straight 
line ; there must be somewhere some end to be 
reached. Eternal progress is unthinkable. 
Creation cannot move forever in a straight 
line ; it must reach a finality somewhere. God 
the Creator and the indwelling power and 

131 



MODERN SERMONS 



guide must accomplish His will, and cannot 
be satisfied with mere progress. What can 
this goal be except it be found in Him? Evo- 
lution then is not a straight line, it is a circle. 
It starts from God; it finds its end in Gtod. 
Prom Him we come; in Him we live; unto 
Him we go. God is in every part ; and God is 
the end of all. "We are accustomed to say 
that in every stage of evolution there is a' 
looking backward and a looking forward. 
The law of progress binds all together. Are 
we to stop with man! Must he look only 
backward or may he look forward, and if so 
to what goal ? What is the completion of the 
development for him? Surely it must be in 
that which is highest in him. Here must we 
find the promise of the future. 

When we study man as he presses on his 

restless way, ever aspiring, ever achieving, as 

we analyze his capacities and seek the source 

of his powers, we are renewedly impressed by 

the evidence that he is more than a product 

of nature. Bound to nature indeed is he by 

niany and indissoluble ties. His body linfa 

him with the whole animal creation. Life, 

.motion, sight, hearing, pain, weakness, death 

-these he shares with the animals. He is 

subject to sun and cold, the sport of wind and 

w^ve, the victim of nature's uncontrolled 

xroi^jes. 

But man is more than this, and that which 
xxxaKe» hun man is not in his body. There is 

132 



PERRY 

that which we call in our imperfect knowledge 
the soul. Here is the man himself. And the 
soul — ^the real man, who tabernacles in this 
body of flesh — refuses to be bound by its limi- 
tations. He tames the forces of nature or 
evades their disastrous effects; he rises su- 
perior to physical defect or weakness. He 
asserts his right to be the lord of all creation ; 
to use it all for his ends, to make all subserv- 
ient to his wishes. Man turns and looks down 
the long line of evolution through which life 
has ascended and he owns his kinship with 
these lower forms — Slower he calls them, be- 
lieving himself to be the apex of this devel- 
opment. By his body he is linked with all the 
material creation, but he turns to look upward 
to discern the final goal of all evolution and 
he recognizes that there is in him the promise 
and potency of divinity. Man stands then, 
thus far, as the climax of the evolutionary 
process. He owns his kinship with that which 
is below him, but he is not the end of creation. 
The circle must be completed. Evolution 
starts with God, it can only end in God. 
Prom Him we came forth, unto Him we gof. 
As man finds himself bound by his body to 
the lower creation, so by his soul he finds him- 
self akin to God. This is what we mean when 
we say that man was made in the image of 
God. There are in him capacities and powers 
that separate him from the brute, that link 
him to God. He bears an image and super- 

133 



MODERN SERMONS 



scription that testify to this relation, that 
show he was meant for God. And ont of this 
supreme relation comes the supreme duty of 
life — ^to become more like God. 

Let us admit that this image of God is 
often dim, that it is marred by sin, like the 
worn and battered coin we sometimes see. Yet 
in the fact that the essential image is still 
there, in the fact that therefore man cannot 
find his true goal except in God, we find the 
reason for Jesus' command: '* Render unto 
God the things which are God's.'* Let us 
then look at some aspects in which the image 
of God is seen in man, that by beholding the 
relation we may also see clearly the duty in- 
volved in it. 

Man is distinguished from all the animal 
creation by his reason. He sees the world as 
does the bird, the beast ; its sounds attract or 
alarm him ; its forces play upon him as upon 
them. But he sees beneath the surface ; he is 
not satisfied with appearances. He thinks 
upon what he sees and hears and feels. He 
finds relations between things ; he groups ; he 
classifies. He searches for causes; he pene- 
trates to origins. He traces development; he 
seeks for the goal of being. The universe be- 
comes to him not a series of chance phenom- 
ena, but an ordered cosmos. Persuaded that 
the world has a creator, he finds evidences of 
creative thought all about him. And what is 
all science but, as Kepler said, thinking God's 

134 



PERRY 

thoughts after Him. To be capable of think- 
ing God's thoughts shows kinship with the 
divine. Man must be like God or he cannot 
know God as revealed in nature. In the 
words of Professor Gwatkin, ** Science, and 
even thought about nature, would be impossi- 
ble if there were not that in nature which 
speaks to us in language our mind can under- 
stand. And that which speaks to us in language 
our mind can understand cannot be any- 
thing else than a kindred miiid revealed in 
nature. Our true aflBnity and likeness to the 
power immanent in nature is the necessary 
postulate, not only of religion, but of science, 
and even of thought itself. Scientific knowl- 
edge would be impossible if we had no like- 
ness and aflBnity to the mind which speaks to 
us in the facts of the universe ; and thought 
itself would be no more than idle fancy if all 
true human thought were not the tracing of 
divine thought which has gone before it." 

If, then, bearing the image of God in our 
minds we may think God's thoughts after 
Him, we must do so. Duty summons us. We 
must render unto God the things that are His. 
We must think the truth, for God is true. 
Not aU human thought is God's thought ; only 
true thought is God's thought. We must seek 
to know the truth, everywhere and always. 
We must be open-minded to receive the truth ; 
we must search for the truth; we must cling 
to the truth. Thinking truth we shall think 

135 



MODERN SERMONS 



God's thought and only so; and this in the 
reahn of science, of philosophy, of religion, in 
private conduct and social relations. Here 
saint Mid scholar come into harmony. Both 
seek to think the thoughts of God. All truth 
is one, all true thoughts find their reconcilia- 
tion, nay their unity in the divine mind. Not 
only is scientific error untrue, but in the great 
words of Dr. Hart, ** Every thought which is 
base, or viley or selfish, is first of all untrue.'' 
If we know the truth, if we think God's 
thoughts, we shall be led upward to Him. We 
still are far, it is true, from that perfect 
knowledge to which we aspire. We know in 
part, and often misread the meaning of what 
we see; but we may press on ever to know 
more and more of truth. 

Oh mind of man, Godlike in nature, infinite 
in capacity, thou art set in a world of order 
to penetrate its secrets, to find its laws, to 
understand its purpose. Thou art placed in a 
world of discord and sin, to discern the ideal, 
to discover life's goal, to point out life's laws. 
Then think the truth, live to know, to pro- 
claim, to manifest the truth, the etemtd trutli 
of God. 

The image of God in man is manifested also 
in man's capacity to enjoy and love. Because 
like God we may take delight in the same 
things, find beauty in the same flower, ex- 
perience pleasure in the same wonderful adap- 
tations, know the joy of loving and being 

136 



PERRY 

loved. We all recognize the capacities for en- 
joyment in man, which vary so widely in dif- 
ferent individuals. We have pleasures that 
we share with the brute creation, the satis- 
faction of hunger, the very joy of living. But 
we have pleasures which none but our fellow- 
men can enjoy. Music and art and poetry 
carry to the human spirit only their inspiring 
message. And there are joys too deep for 
words which touch the very inmost harp of 
our being. These are divine, these are God- 
like. Because we are like God we may ex- 
perience these divine joys — ^love and peace. 
Can there be a closer test of our characters 
than this : Are our pleasures Godlike! In the 
things we enjoy are we showing the image of 
Godf There can of course be no question but 
that the highest joys the human soul can ex- 
perience are those which it shares with the 
Spirit of God. He who grovels in his pleas- 
ures, who finds in the coarse, the brutal, the 
selfish, that which gives enjoyment, has 
missed the keenest joy of which the soul of 
man is capable. Here, again, the image of 
God is seen in man, and from this comes the 
duty to aspire in our pleasures, to manifest 
our kinship with the divine by loving the 
things He loves, and rejoicing in the things in 
which He rejoices. 

The crown of man's personality, and that 
which marks most clearly his kinship with 
God, is his will, his freedom of choice. To 

137 



MODERN SERMONS 



think the thoughts of God, to love what He 
loves, is a great thing ; to enter into His plans 
and to become a co-worker with Him is 
greater. What are knowledge and feeling for, 
except to see clearly the path of action and to 
be strong to walk in it? Both are compara- 
tively useless unless they issue in choice and 
deed. Why are we made Godlike in mind and 
heart except that we may be Gpdlike in act? 
Here is the supreme nobility of man. To 
know God's thought is to know His purpose; 
to trace His revelation of Himself is to dis- 
cern His plan for man. The great end of life 
then must be to secure the fulfilment of that 
best purpose for men, to help carry out that 
divine plan. 

Oh how far from this conception is this 
bustling, selfish world! We hear the jangle 
of strife and greed. Men worship Mammon ; 
they seek earthly riches ; they pursue sensual 
pleasures ; they run after base ambitions ; they 
destroy each other in their madness. Is this 
man made in God's image? Alas, how 
marred and obscured that image ! Yet under- 
neath aU there is still that divine capacity. 
The individual may be rescued from such sel- 
fish pursuits; new visions may be given him 
of better goals. He may yet repent, and seek 
first the kingdom of God and His righteous- 
ness. This is the only path to self-realization, 
the only method by which the goal of being 
may be attained. 

138 



PERRY 

If we should apply this test to our own 
lives, would we find that we are given to 
carrying out God's plans! Do we judge per- 
sonal interests or public policy, do we estimate 
civic ends or social measures, by such a stand- 
ard? And yet what is the truth here! Are 
not Qod^B plans the best for map and for so- 
ciety? And are not His plans sure of real- 
ization? Is not His kingdom certain of do- 
minion? To fight against God is to be crusht 
to powder ; to ignore God is to be pushed aside 
and left as driftwood upon the river's bank; 
to work with God is to make life a real success, 
and to make a permiment contribution to the 
progress of mankind. Alas for the narrow 
vision that puts selfish interests first! Alas 
for the blindness that considers business of 
more concern than morals ! Alas for the base 
heart that cares more for selfish profits than 
for social benefits! Is God's image there on 
the human will, capable of choosing good or 
evil ? To God must it be given. 

Here then is the conclusion of the whole 
matter. God's image in man, testified by 
these divine capacities of thought and feeling 
and choice, speaks of an essential relation be- 
tween man and God. Man is made by God, is 
made for God. This image and superscription 
testify to this essential and admitted relation. 
They also disclose the supreme duty of man. 
He must render unto God the things that are 
God's. These capacities must not be buried 

139 



MODERN SERMONS 



like talents in a napkin, they must not be 
stunted for lack of exercise, they must not be 
perverted to base uses; they must be devel- 
oped through use and consecrated t# Him who 
gave them. Man's highest development as 
man, can only come when he becomes more en- 
tirely divine. Crown of creation, acme of 
evolution he setnds, only that he may, by his 
free choice, bind back all creation to its source, 
and demonstrate the purpose of all by his 
wiUing obedience to this divine law. So na- 
ture receives its crown, so knowledge reaches 
its goal, so the purpose of God is complete in 
the perfection of humanity. Far lies that 
goal from present attainment, long is the road 
to its realization. But as we see here and 
there, individuals looming up from the com- 
mon mass and approximating the ideal ; as we 
see leaders arise who, by words of eloquence 
or lives of purity, inspire men to strive for 
that which is above ; as we mark the upward 
progress of the race through the centuries; 
nay more, as we see in the Man of Galilee the 
incarnate Savior, the fulness of that image, 
the completeness of that relation, and the per- 
fect fulfilment of that duty, we are encour- 
aged to believe that the goal is not unattain- 
able, that the purpose of God shall at last be 
accomplished, that His plan shall be per- 
fected, that evolution shall reach its end in 
the perfect response of man to God, in the full 
realization of God's image in man. 

140 



PIERSON 

OUR LORD'S PRIMARY LESSON IN THE 
SCHOOL OF PRAYER 



ARTHUR TAPPAN PIERSON 

Editob-in-chibf of The Missionary Be-* 
view of the World; bom in New York 
City, March 6, 1837; graduated Hamilton 
College, 1857; and Union Theological 
Seminary, 1860; ordained to the gospel 
ministry as an evangelist in May the same 
year; pastor of the First Congregational 
church, Binghamton, N. Y., 1860-63; 
Presbyterian church, Waterford, N. Y., 
1863-69; Fort Street Presbyterian church, 
Detroit, Mich., 1869-82; Second Presby- 
terian church, Indianapolis, Ind., 1882,3; 
Bethany Presbyterian church, Philadel- 
phia, 1883-89; Metropolitan Tabernacle, 
London, England, 1891-93; Duff lecturer 
on missions in Scotland, 1891-94; Graves 
lecturer at New Brunswick, etc. ; author of 
" Miracles of Missions," " Crisis of Mis- 
sions," " George Miiller of Bristol," " For- 
ward Movements of the Last Half Cen- 
tury," etc. 



OUR LORD'S PRIMARY LESSON 
IN THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER. 

Arthur T. Pierson, D.D. 

** Thou, wlien thou pray est, enter into thy closet.'' — 
Matt. 6 : 6. 

THREE things stand out prominently in 
this brief injunction; first, the indi- 
vidual approach to God; second, the 
secret place of communion ; third, the specific 
object, prayer. 

The word, ** closet," is unusual. The orig- 
inal word-- is found but four times in the 
New Testament, in one instance being ren- 
dered, ** secret chambers,'' and in another, 
*' storehouse." The words here used by our 
Lord closely resemble those of Isaiah 26 : 20 : 
** Come, my people, enter thou into thy cham- 
bers, and shut thy doors about thee." 

There is in both cases marked emphasis on 
the singular number of the second personal 
pronoun. In Isaiah, the opening call is plu- 
ral, or collective, ** Come, my people," but 
immediately changes to the singular, ** Enter 
thou into thy chambers," and so, in our 
Lord's adaptation of these words, conspicuous 
stress is laid on the singular, '* thou." The 
injunction is intensely individual. '* But 

143 



MODERN SERMONS 



thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet ; 
and when thou hast shut thy door pray to thy 
Father, who is in secret, and thy Father shaU 
reward thee openly." Eight times, in so 
brief a space, is the singular pronoun used, 
surely not without purpose. 

What do these four words suggest : * * Enter 
into thy closet "? Closet means simply a 
close, a closed place, shut in for privacy, shut 
out from intrusion and interruption. To 
Jewish hearers such language would natur- 
ally suggest the one place that was preemi- 
nently a secret chamber — ^the inmost court of 
tabernacle and temple, where Qod specially 
dwelt, known as the holy of holies. 

That was preeminently a secret chamber, 
a closed place, having neither door nor win- 
dow ; unlike many an Oriental court which is 
open to the sky, it was roofed in and without 
skylight. It was always shut. A door which 
we open, as we enter a room, we must also 
close behind us; but the veil in front of the 
holiest of all, raised as the high priest went 
in, fell back as soon as it was released, and so 
kept the secrecies of God's chamber diut out 
from mortal eyes. 

Here then was one place, peculiarly marked 
by silence, secrecy, solitude and separation. 
Only one person ever entered here, at a time, 
** the high priest, once every year, alone." 
Two parties never met there save himself and 
God. It was, in a unique sense, the place of 

144 



PIERSON 



which Gk)d could say, ** Thou and I " — ^the 
one closet, shut-in place, secret chamber for 
the meeting of one man with his Maker. 

Moreover, its one conspicuous solitary ar- 
ticle of furniture was the mercy-seat, the ap- 
pointed meeting place, the basis of fellowship 
between the suppliant and the Hearer of 
prayer. And thus the three conditions, sug- 
gested by the injunction, ** Enter into thy 
closet,'' were met here as nowhere else; here 
was the secret chamber, the individual ap- 
proach and the prayerful communion. 

Here we have the key to this first lesson on 
prayer: the '* closet " is the holy of holies 
where the praying soul meets God alone, and 
communes with Him at the blood-sprinkled 
mercy-seat. 

The highest prayer is impossible, save as 
the human suppliant deliberately seeks to 
meet God absolutely alone. To secure such 
aloneness we are bidden to ** enter into the 
closet,'' to find some place and time where we 
may shut ourselves in with Him. This is 
made emphatic by repetition in another form: 
** And when thou hast shut thy door, pray 
to thy Father, who is in secret," a second 
word here used meaning essentially the same 
as closet — a secret place. 

In praying, we need some place and time, 
free from needless interruption and intrusion. 
The eyelid drops over the organ of vision, 
shutting out all external objects; and, if the 



VII— 10 145 



MODERN SERMONS 



ear were similarly supplied with an earlid, to 
shut out all sounds, as the eyelid does all 
sights, a closet could be instantly found and 
entered even in the throng, and the spirit 
might secretly commune with God in the 
crowded streets or assemblies. 

But, in the absence of any such natural 
provision for such complete seclusion and ex- 
clusion, our Lord counsels us, when we pray, 
to get somehow, somewhere, a silent, secret 
conununing place with Gk)d, as not only the 
very basis of prayer, but of all holy living 
built upon prayer. The more completely we 
can separate ourselves from all others, worldly 
pursuits and pleasures, distracting cares and 
diverting thoughts, shutting out all else but 
God, the more perfect is the fitness of the 
hour and place to the purpose. Those who 
know how needful and helpful such a secret 
time and place for prayer are, will secure, at 
any cost, the silent season even tho, like 
the psalmist, they rise before others wake, 
and ** prevent the dawning of the morning." 

Every praying soul needs to meet God ab- 
solutely alone. There are inner secrets which 
no other human being however intimate ought 
to know, or indeed can know. 

'* The heart knoweth his own bitterness; 
And a stranger doth not intermeddle witiii his J07." 

We turn ourselves inside out not even to a 
146 



PIERSON 



bosom friend : we would not if we could, and 
could not if we would. To the inmost secret 
chambers there is no open door; they are 
locked and sealed; words supply no key to 
them, and the seal of silence and secrecy is 
inviolable. But ** all things are naked and 
opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we 
have to do ''; and so the closet, where we 
meet God alone and only, is the one place for 
all such secrets. Nothing else will supply its 
place. Public worship, the ** family altar," 
or the more private prayer in which only hus- 
band and wife join before Gk)d — ^none of these 
can take the place of the solitary closet. In 
one respect they who are ** one flesh,'' are still 
** twain "; for neither can ever fully know 
the other. But while, to our most intimate 
friend we cannot reveal everything, from God 
we can conceal nothing. His omniscient eye 
pierces to the secret chambers, despite the lock 
which no man can pick, the seal which no 
man dares break. He reads the thoughts yet 
** afar off," like forms faintly seen in the dim 
distance, and hears the word yet unspoken 
** in the tongue," And it is as to these se- 
crets which must be brought to the light in 
His presence, exposed, confessed, renounced, 
corrected before Him, that the closet is meant 
to give facility and freedom for converse with 
God. Hence this initial command to cultivate 
habitual aloneness with Him. Like Jacob at 
Peniel, each suppliant must be ** left alone " 

147 



MODERN SERMONS 



at times: the '* thou '' must be absolute and 
not the ** ye/' when the closet is entered. 

Why now is such stress laid, in our Lord's 
primary lesson on prayer, upon this shutting 
out of all else, and closing in' of the suppliant 
with God? 

It is, first of all, in order to what, as his 
third instrument of ** Holy Living," Jeremy 
.Taylor calls ** the practise of the presence of 
God." 

Nothing else has such an effect upon char- 
acter and conduct, as this sense of God's 
presence; and nothing is so difficult, nay im- 
possible of attainment, so long as we neglect 
God's appointed means. 

God is a Spirit, and must be worshiped in 
the spirit. Invisible, inaudible, intangible, 
He cannot be tested by the senses: they ut- 
terly fail as channels of impression or com- 
munication. His subtle essence evades all 
carnal approach or analysis. He must there- 
fore be otherwise known, if at all: the spirit 
alone has the higher senses which, being ex- 
ercised to discern good and evil, can enable 
us to perceive God and hold communication 
with Him. Hence, to those who live a sinful 
or even worldly life, and are carnally minded, 
even the reality and verity of His existence 
become matters of practical, if not theoretical, 
doubt. There is much virtual atheism in 
mere unbelief. It is possible to recite the 
creed, *' I believe in God, the Father Al- 

148 



PIERSON 



mighty/' without ever for one moment hav- 
ing had a real, true sense of the presence of 
God. Many who do not deny that Gtod is, 
do not know that He is. 

Such sense of the divine existence, and 
realization of the diyine presence may be cul- 
tivated. God has appointed two means, 
which, when used jointly, never fail: first a 
meditative reading of Holy Scripture, and 
secondly a habitual communion with Him in 
the closet. These two are so closely related, 
that they are not only mutually helpful, but 
operate upon us in ways almost precisely 
alike Both introduce us into God's secret 
chambers. 

When a devout disciple takes up God's 
Word for studious thought, he naturally lifts 
his heart to Him who alone can unveil the 
eyes of his understanding to behold wondrous 
things out of His law. As he reads and 
searches, meditating therein, the same Spirit 
who first inspired the Word, illumines his 
mind. New light is thrown upon the sacred 
page, so that what was obscure or hidden, be- 
comes visible and legible; and new clearness 
of sight and insight is given so that spiritual 
vision becomes more capable of seeing, more 
keen-sighted and far-sighted. 

Those who have felt this double effect of 
the Spirit's teaching bear witness that the 
Bible becomes a transformed book. Best of 
all books before, it is now the Book of God — a 

149 



MaDERN SERMONS 



house of many mansions, in which new doors 
constantly open into new apartments, massive 
and magnificent, God's art galleries, museums 
of curious things, chambers of disclosed 
mysteries, treasuries of celestial gems. The 
devout student is transported with wonder 
and delight. Words open with new mean- 
ings, affording glimpses into depths and 
heights, breadths and lengths, that are infinite. 
Looking at a firmament which was before 
clouded, the clouds are parting and heavenly 
constellations are visible. Meanwhile the eye 
has become telescopic ; and where before were 
seen a few scattered stars or an indistinct 
nebulous cloud, everything is ablaze with the 
glories of countless and many colored lights. 
When the Author of the Word becomes In- 
structor and Interpreter of His own text- 
book, heaven's great classic is read with the 
notes and comments of the divine Author 
himself ; and so he who devoutly searches the 
Scriptures, finds in them both eternal life and 
the testimony of Jesus ; th^ reverent, prayer- 
ful study of the Word of God is the cure of 
all honest doubt as to its divine origin, and 
the all-convincing proof of its plenary in- 
spiration. 

But, as the First Psalm reminds us, to find 
such delight in the law of the Lord, one must 
meditate therein day and night ; be a sort of 
sacramental tree of life, planted by the rivers 
of water. Mark the instructive, emphatic 

150 



PIERSON 



metaphor. A tree is permanently planted in 
the soil. Its roots are fixed organs of nutri- 
tion, constantly subordinate to the double 
purpose of growth and fruitfulness. Through 
the spongelets at the extremities of the roots, 
the tree takes up the water of the river into 
itself, transmuting it into sap which deposits 
woody fiber in the branches and becomes juice 
in the fruit. The disciple, planted by the 
river of God — ^the Word which goeth forth 
out of His mouth, takes up into himself the 
very water of life, translating truth into char- 
acter, and precepts and promises into prac- 
tise. He reads God's Word and, like the 
cattle that chew the cud, ruminates upon it; 
and so comes to know God through His Word, 
as we know men through candid and self-re- 
vealing utterances. To meditate on God's 
words introduces us to the secret chambers of 
God's thoughts, and imparts insight into God's 
character. One becomes sure there is a 
God, who sees Him unveiled in the Scriptures, 
hears His still small voice in their audience 
chambers, traces His footprints on their 
golden pavements; and, in times of tempta- 
tion, trial, sorrow, or doubt, God's words, 
brought to remembrance, and applied by the 
Spirit to his needs, become, individually, 
God's words to him. He consults the oracles 
of God, and they give answer. This is to the 
unbelieving one of the closed mysteries, a 
stumbling-block of mysticism, or the foolish- 

151 



MODERN SERMONS 



ness of fanaticism ; but, to him whose experi- 
ence has been enriched by it, an open mystery, 
a fact as indisputable as any in the realm of 
matter. 

The other method of the practise of the 
presence of God is communion with Him in 
the closet. And how like to Scripture study 
is the process whereby prayer introduces to 
His fellowship ! It implies meditation ; opens 
the secret chambers and reveals God ; discloses 
marvels and unlocks mysteries; makes one 
sure that Qod ** is and is a rewarder of them 
that diligently seek him,'' which is the di- 
vinely declared condition of all acceptable, 
prevailing approach! 

Upon this method of cultivating acquaint- 
ance with God, the great Teacher would 
specially fix attention in this, His primary les- 
son on prayer. 

All other presence hinders the practise of 
the presence of God. The thought of human 
auditors or observers prevents the closest ap- 
proach and the highest power in prayer. At 
the very moment when the supreme need is 
that all the faculties and activities of the 
being shall be converged and concentrated, 
centralized and facilized, as are scattered 
rays of light by a concave speculum or a con- 
vex lens, the mind is diverted and distracted, 
and the attention divided, by the thought that 
another human being hears or sees. Such di- 
vided attention must hinder the realization 

152 



PIERSON 



of the presence of the unseen Gtod. Nor is it 
hard to see the reason why. 

That profound lesson, taught the Samari- 
tan woman on the subject of worship, includes 
prayer as one of its highest forms or acts. 
God, being a spirit, must be worshiped as 
such, and can be approached only by what is 
spiritual in man. There is among men bodily 
contact and communion, as when hand joins 
hand, eye looks into eye, or words pass from 
one mouth to another ear. But, as God can 
neither be seen, heard, nor touched, there can 
be no such sensible contact between man and 
God; being a spirit. He can be approached 
only spiritually, that is by contact between 
our spirits and His. 

In order to such contact, and that it may be 
real, recognized and conscious, all the spiritual 
faculties need to be active, on the alert; and 
all diversions or distractions of mind must be 
avoided which make impossible exclusive at- 
tention to the divine object of thought. But 
we are so constituted as to be unable really to 
fix attention on more than one subject or ob- 
ject at a time. Hence, in God's economy of 
nature, many necessary acts are so provided 
for as to be automatic, like walking, only half 
conscious and semi- voluntary ; for, were it 
needful to concentrate all attention upon 
every step, we could, while walking, give heed 
to nothing else. 

Moreover, we cannot fully exercise any one 

153 



MODERN SERMONS 



sense while any of the others is fully exercised 
and occupied, there being room for but one 
thorough sense-impression at a time. We can- 
not fix the eye upon a picture so as to study 
its effects in drawing and coloring, and yet 
at the same time give our ears to the hearing 
of a masterpiece of music, so as to observe 
critically its melody and harmony. 

Especially do we find that, to occupy the 
physical senses is so far to divert the mind 
from purely intellectual processes however 
simple. For instance, in some late experi- 
ments in psychology, the test was made, how 
far an observer, watching rapid changes of 
color, could detect the delicate transitions 
from one shade to another ; and it was found 
that if, while so engaged, the simplest exercise 
in mental arithmetic were attempted, tho only 
the addition or multiplication table, the power 
to discern these gradual changes of color was 
arrested. Man is constituted to do properly 
and thoroughly, but one thing at once. 

Acquaintance with the unseen God is the 
first of all acquisitions. To attain the closest ap- 
' proach, to get the most vivid sense of His pres- 
ence, and so, the greatest power and blessing 
at the mercy-seat, all thought of men and of 
this world must be shut out, and all interrup- 
tions avoided that come through the senses or 
the imagination. So far only as we learn the 
art of thinking only of God, will this great 
lesson of closet prayer be learned, for, on the 

154 



PIERSON 



measure of our realization of the unseen Pres- 
ence, all else must depend. 

Our Lord's first lesson on prayer gives an- 
other hint of great value, tho rather implied 
than openly exprest. He tells us that the 
Father who is in secret, or in the secret place, 
and who sees in the darkness of the souPs holy 
of holies, rewards the suppliant openly — ** in 
the open." When the high priest approached 
to God it is neither recorded nor intimated 
that he was wont to offer up supplication ; the 
element of petition is nowhere prominent. 
He seems to have gone in to the holiest, to 
** appear before God " — ^to present himself, 
with the blood, before the mercy-seat — ^his 
presence constituting his plea ; and the blood 
of atonement, both the sign of his obedience 
and the pledge of his acceptance. There he 
seems to have waited not so much to offer up 
to God prayers and supplications, as to re- 
ceive from God impressions and revelations. 

The ** Urim and Thummim '' may have 
some connection with this revealing of God's 
mind and will. Some think that the light of 
the Shekinah fire, shining on the breast-plate 
of the high priest, made successive letters of 
the names with which its stones were graven, 
stand out conspicuous, so that he could, in 
characters of light, spell out the divine mes- 
sage ; and it is a curious fact that the twelve 
names, taken together, contain nearly every 
letter of the' Hebrew alphabet. 

155 



MODERN SERMONS 



, However this be, the mercy-seat was mainly 
a place, not of petition but of communication, 
of impartation from God, of divine revelation. 
The high priest waited there for a message 
which he bore back to the people in benedic- 
tion. 

The closet is not only an oratory — ^a place 
for prayer — ^but an observatory, where we 
may get new views and revelations of God. 
There is a quest higher than mere request — ^a 
search after knowledge of God and communi- 
cation from Him. Here devout souls learn 
what is meant by communion — ^which is al- 
ways mutual — ^implying not only prayer of- 
fered, but answer received. The praying soul 
speaks to God, and hears God speak — gets as 
well as gives — and finds the most precious 
part of this communion, not in requests im- 
parted Godward, but in returns imparted 
manward, the reception of divine impressions 
and communications. The reward, promised, 
comes while yet he speaks and waits before 
the Lord : believing he receives, and receiving 
enjoys. Such a reward cannot be kept secret. 
It makes the heart to overflow and even the 
face to shine. 

True prayer, in its highest form and reach, 
is not only impartive but receptive : the whole 
nature going out in adoration, thanksgiving, 
confession, supplication, intercession ; but also 
opening all its channels for the incoming of 
blessing. Communion becomes intercommuni- 

156 



PIERSON 



cation — Jacob's ladder resting in the closet 
and reaching to the throne — and angels de- 
scend to bring blessing, as well as ascend to 
bear petition ; or, as a simple Japanese convert 
puts it, prayer is like the well where one 
bucket comes down while the other goes up, 
only that it is always the empty bucket that 
goes up and the full one that comes back. 

Of this aspect of prayer, as a revelation of 
God to the suppliant, the current definitions 
take little notice. The Westminster standards 
define prayer as ** the offering up of our de- 
sires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the 
help of His Spirit, with confession of our sins 
and thankful acknowledgment of His mer- 
cies.'' Here is no recognition of meditative 
communion with the divine Presence for the 
sake of a present communication from God to 
the soul. 

With most praying people, the fundamental 
if not exhaustive conception of prayer is ask- 
ing somewhat of God. This is surely not the 
whole of prayer ; little mgre than a beginning 
is made without some disclosure of God to the 
soul. Our Lord himself at times withdrew 
from all human companionships, for secret 
communion with the Father, as when He went 
out '* into a mountain to pray and continued 
all night in prayer to God." Such all-night 
interviews mark all great crises of His life on 
earth ; but it cannot be supposed that He 
spent all these hours in continuous supplica- 

157 



MODERN SERMONS 



tion, but rather, like Gideon, on the plains of 
Jezreel, spread out His whole being like fleece, 
to drink in the heavenly dew of lie Father's 
presence, and in the strength of this celestial 
nectar confront new duties, trials and tempta- 
tions. 

Thus meditative prayer, like reflective read- 
ing of the Word of God, becomes a perpetual 
means and medium of communion with God, 
and so, also, of revelation of God, communion 
both leading to, and itself becoming, revela- 
tion. He who converses with a friend, 
habitually, cannot doubt his existence and 
presence ; and God meant this simple converse 
with Himself to be a demonstration that He 
is, and is a rewarder of them that diligently 
seek Him — so convincing as to dispel all 
doubts, itself the sufficient proof of His real- 
ity and verity as the ever present, living, 
helping (Jod. 

The humblest believer, however unlettered 
or unlearned, may thus, in this school of 
prayer attain to practical certainty in divine 
things; he needs no volumes of apologetics 
or evidences of Christianity : in practising the 
presence of God, the proofs, tho he cannot 
always formulate them for others, become 
convincing to himself. Indeed we oftenest 
find such assurance in the humbler, simpler 
disciples, the ignorant and unlearned, rather 
than the princes or great scholars of the 
Church, and so there is a proneness to asso- 

158 



PIERSON 



ciate such faith with credulity, if not with 
superstition. Witness that abominable lying 
maxim, ** Ignorance is the mother of devo- 
tion/' But the inference is wrong ; for, while 
the more intelligent and intellectual often 
lean to their own understanding, and depend 
on human logic and philosophy for confirma- 
tion of their faith, he who, being untaught 
of men and books, has no other means of 
strengthening his assurance save converse 
with God, is compelled to learn in His school, 
where logic and philosophy are never per- 
verted to the purposes of fallacy and sophis- 
try. ** He that dwelleth in the secret place of 
the most High, abides under the shadow of 
the Almighty"; and no darts of Satanic 
doubt can pierce him, save as they first pass 
through the divine ** wings '' which are his 
covering and shelter. 

Here, then, is our Lord's initial lesson upon 
prayer ; and as, in any first lesson, a master 
teacher naturally lays down fundamental 
laws or first principles, here He lays the cor- 
nerstone of aU true prayer, namely : Prayer is 
at bottom the meeting of a human suppliant 
alone with God, for supplication and com- 
munion at the mercy-seat, and revelation of 
the existence, presence and character of God. 

It is plain why His preliminary caution is 
directed against hypocritical ostentation. 
The hypocrites ** love to pray, standing in the 
synagogs and in the comers of the streets that 



MODERN SERMONS 



they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto 
you, they have their reward. " In praying, as 
in ahnsgiving and fasting, hypocrisy courts 
publicity — it is all * ' to be seen of men. ' ' The 
hypocrite's prayer is addrest to a human au- 
dience rather than to the divine ear; it has 
reference mainly to outward appearance and 
transient impression. Hence publicity is an 
object ; and in the synagogs where the crowds 
throng, at the street corners or crossways com- 
manding all points of the compass at once, he 
takes his stand that he may be seen of men. 
The formalist may not be a hypocrite, but his 
mind is taken up with the externals, and here 
again '* the letter killeth,'' and only '* the 
spirit givethlife.'' 

Christ would have praying souls learn, first 
of aU, that being seen of men is to be avoided 
rather than courted. To concentrate all 
thought and desire upon God, forget all else 
in order not to forget Him, and so be lost in 
the absorbing sense of His presence — ^this is 
the first secret of power in prayer, as also of 
all power in holy living and serving. 

This first lesson is aiso the last, for there is 
no higher fruit of habitual closet communion 
with Gk)d than this new sense of divine real- 
ities. Paul gently rebukes those who have 
not, by reason of use, exercised their senses — 
trained them to keenness — ^to discern good 
and evil. The spirit as well as the body, has 
its senses and they are trained to acuteness 

160 



PIERSON 



and exactness by holy exercise. Imagination 
is the sense of the unseen ; reason, the sense of 
truth and falsehood; conscience, the sense of 
right and wrong ; sensibility, the sense of the 
attractive and repulsive ; memory, the sense of 
the past. The understanding and heart have 
eyes with which to see God's beck and glance, 
ears with which to hear His still small voice, 
organs of touch wherewith to ** handle *' Him 
and see that it is He Himself. The closet is 
the school for the exercise and education of 
these senses. There we go to learn to look at 
things unseen, eternal; to hear the divine 
whisper; to catch the scent of heavenly gar- 
dens; to taste and see that the Lord is good. 
And to reach such results, we need aloneness 
with God, senses fixed upon Himself. 

The closet supplies a key to many mysteries 
of Scripture biography, like Jacob's experi- 
ence at Bethel — ** Surely God was in this 
place and I knew it not; this '' — ^a desert 
place with a stone pillow — *' is none other but 
the house of God, and this is the gate of 
Heaven '': and particularly, at Peniel, where 
later on, he saw ** the face of Qod '' and got 
a lifelong blessing, the supplanter of men be- 
coming the prince of God. It is when we are 
** left alone '' that revelations come. Elijah 
was bidden first to hide himself, and then 
show himself unto Ahab; it was the hiding 
that made the showing such a power. When 
Elisha '* went in and shut the door upon them 

vn— 11 161 



MODERN SERMONS 



twain and prayed unto the Lord," there came 
out from that seeret chamber a dead child, 
brought back to life. Nathanael under the 
fig tree was holding secret converse with (jod ; 
and, when Christ said to him, ** Before that 
Philip called thee, when thou wast under the 
fig tree I saw thee,*' the guileless Israelite 
recognized in Him One whom he had met in 
the secret place, and who now as then read his 
thoughts. 

To get such impressions of Qod, in closet 
communion, there is needful the time-element. 
Bapid glances always leave comparatively 
transient impressions, but a gaze, which takes 
time to fix itself on an object, takes in its 
whole impress so as to leave its image perma- 
nently in the mind. 

True, our Lord warns us that we are not 
heard for our much speaking: it is not by 
many words or long prayers that we prevail. 
It is nevertheless also true that haste or hurry 
in prayer defeats the main end, preventing 
that calmness, concentration, peace and quiet 
of soul which helps to revelation. The word, 
** reflection,'' suggests a power to mirror di- 
vine verities and realities. To all such reflec- 
tion hurry and worry are fatal. He who 
rushes into the presence of God, hastens 
through a few formal petitions, and then hast- 
ens back to outside cares and pursuits, does 
not tarry long enough in the secret chamber, 
to lose the impression of what is without, and 

162 



PIERSON 



get the impress of what is within. He does 
not take time to fix his gaze on the unseen and 
eternal, and many a so-called praying man 
has never once resJly met and seen God in the 
closet. His spirit, disturbed and perturbed, 
tossed up and down and driven to and fro by 
worldly thoughts and cares, can no more re- 
flect God than a ruffled lake can mirror the 
heavens above it. To see God reflected in the 
heart-depths, one must stay long enough for 
the storm to be calmed, and the soul to become 
placid enough to mirror heaven. 

When such communion does become real, 
prayer ceases to be mere duty and becomes de- 
light, all sense of obligation lost in privilege. 
Love seeks the company of its object. If we 
cultivate human companionship for its own 
sake, mutely sitting in the presence of one 
whom we devotedly love, shall not our love to 
God make it an object to shut ourselves in 
with Him at times just to enjoy Himt Is 
there no taint of selfishness in prayer which 
knows no higher motive than to ask some 
favor t Jude bids us '* pray in the Holy 
Ghost '' as one means to keep ourselves in the 
love of Gh)d ; as Archbishop Usher, in his last 
days, when his animal heat failed, kept him- 
self in the warm sunshine. In the closet one 
learns to keep himself in the love of God, find- 
ing there the Sunbeam whose light illumines, 
whose love warms, whose life quickens. God's 
presence becomes the atmosphere without 

163 



MODERN SERMONS 



which spiritual life has no breath. Such 
habitual abiding in the presence of God, and 
dwelling upon His perfections develops an 
enamoring love, which led Zinzendorf and 
Tholuck to say, '* I have but one passion: and 
it is He and He alone ! '^ 

Such Gk>d-revealing habits of prayer lay the 
very comer-stone of all holy living. Every- 
thing vital to godliness is nourished on closet 
air. Prayer is spiritual respiration and the 
secret place supplies its oxygen and ozone. 

For example, what a power both to reveal 
and to prevent sin is this sense of the pres- 
ence of Gk)d which is learned in secret prayer. 

We must not be surprised when the com- 
munion with God that reveals Him unveils 
ourselves: " Whatsoever doth make manifest 
is light.'* That same Shekinah fire, which 
makes the golden wings and faces of the 
cherubim shine, pierces every disguise and 
shows the very thoughts and intents of the 
heart, like a sword piercing to the dividing 
asunder of soul and spirit. Secret prayer is 
a revelation of self as well as of God. We 
must endure and even invoke its searching 
ray: 

** Search me, O God, and know my heart ; 
Trj me and know my thoughts ; 
And see if there be in me any wicked way» 
And lead me in the eyerlasting way." 

Daniel was so faultless that even enemies 
could find nothing in him to accuse save his 

164 



PIERSON 



faith in God and his prayer to God; yet, in 
the presence of that Glory, even his '* comeli- 
ness was turned into corruption," and Isaiah 
in that Presence, cried, ** Wo is me; for I 
am a man of unclean lips and dwell in the 
midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine 
eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." 
But all such self -revelation and self-condem- 
nation are only blessings, for they are the re- 
sult of a divine vision, and the divine answer 
to such self-abasement is a new communica- 
tion and exaltation. When Daniel abhorred 
himself, he heard a voice, saying, ** O Daniel, 
a man greatly beloved, fear not ; for from the 
first day that thou didst set thine heart to 
understand and to chasten thyself before thy 
God, thy words were heard and I am come for 
thy words." When Isaiah bewailed his un- 
clean lips, the seraph touched those same lips 
with a live coal from oflf God's altar, and said, 
** Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thine 
iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is 
purged." When Peter felt so unfit for the 
Lord's companionship that he involuntarily 
besought Him to depart from him, he heard 
only the assuring answer, ** Fear not, from 
henceforth thou shalt capture men alive." 

This sense of the divine Presence, which re- 
veals sin, also prevents it. In the crisis of 
temptation Joseph's answer to the syren voice 
of the tempter evinced his habit of thinking of 
God, and it was natural to say with himself, 

165 



MODERN SERMONS 



** How can I do this great thing and sin 
against God? ** Paul reminds Corinthian dis- 
ciples that they are the very temple — ^the 
holy of holies — of God, because His Spirit 
dwelleth in them ; and, on the. basis of this 
awe-inspiring fact, he builds that exhortation, 
" Having therefore these promises, let us 
cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the 
flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear 
of God." In the hour of temptation, sudden, 
overwhelming, overpowering, what a safe- 
guard is the thought, the conviction, the con- 
sciousness, '* Thou, God, seest me." I can go 
nowhere from Thy presence. The wings of the 
morning are not swift enough, nor the utter- 
most parts of the earth far enough, to remove 
me from Thine eye and Thine hand. Such are 
the profound, devout meditations suggested 
by that psalm of the presence of God unsur- 
passed for poetry or piety. When one feels 
God near, searching the inmost depths of be- 
ing with omniscient glance; by omnipresent 
companionship with us because in us, always 
and everywhere ; and with omnipotent energy 
creating, upholding, strengthening — ^how easy 
and natural to do what pleases God, and say 
to all seductive allurements, ** My heart is 
fixed." Only when the sense of God's pres- 
ence is lost, can voluntary sin be possible. 

Again, what intrepid courage in witness for 
God and heroic duty, this sense of His pres- 
ence imparts! 



166 



PIERSON 



Elijah, the great reformer of abuses, and 
rebuker of idolatry and iniquity in high 
places, cultivated this consciousness of God. 
His characteristic phrase was, '* Jehovah, God 
of Israel, before whom I stand ^' — as tho 
he felt himself to be constantly standing in 
the presence of his divine Master — ^a servant 
whose eyes were to the eye and hand of that 
Master, watching and waiting to be guided by 
a beck or even a glance. Because he thus 
stood before God, he could stand unabashed 
before Ahab and Jezebel. 

In the old days it was customary to open 
the Connecticut legislature with an '* election 
sermon.'' On one occasion the chosen 
preacher was one of the Strong brothers, and 
his modesty shrank from the grave respon- 
sibility. On the way to the place of assembly, 
he disclosed to his brother his oppressive bur- 
den of reluctance to face such an audience, 
a body among whom would be found lawyers 
and judges, generals and statesmen, doctors 
of divinity and doctors of law, governors 
and ex-governors — ^the flower of the common- 
wealth. " How can I venture before such an 
audience? '' *' You have only to remember,'' 
answered his brother, ** that other Presence, 
so august, that in comparison all human pres- 
ence becomes utterly insignificant, and preach 
as in that Presence alone." With this 
thought, he went fearlessly to the discharge 
of his duty. Rev. Dr. Samuel H. Cox recalled 

167 



MODERN SERMONS 



fbis incident when in a momentous crisis of 
his life he addrest the Evangelical Alliance 
with its representatives of all nations, and the 
thought of that same Presence nerved his 
fainting spirit. 

So went John Baptist before Herod, Panl 
before Agrippa, Felix, Nero; Luther before 
the Diet of Worms, Ejiox before Queen Mary. 
This same sense of the Father, who never left 
Him alone, enabled Him whom the prophet 
called ** The Servant of Jehovah,'' to go with 
infinite calmness before Herod, Caiaphas and 
Pilate, utterly careless of human opinion, in- 
different alike to censure or applause, because 
He could say, ** I do always those things 
which please Him! " After a severe rebuke 
to those who made void the commandments of 
God through their tradition. His disciples 
said, *' Knowest thou that the Pharisees were 
offended after they heard this saying t '' but 
He calmly answered, *' Every plant which my 
heavenly Father hath not planted shall be 
rooted up." He could not modify His mes- 
sage on account of the opposition of the 
hearer, but the hearer must accommodate him- 
self to the message ; and so will every true mes- 
senger of God answer human opposers, if he 
is wont to cultivate and cherish the sense of 
the presence of God. 

This practise of the presence of Gk)d is the 
secret of both fidelity and cheerfulness in the 
discharge of common duty. 

168 



PIERSON 



Whatever helps us to holy living must be 
found in those secret chambers of devout 
study of the Word and habitual communion 
with a prayer-hearing God. Any burden can 
be borne, any trial endured, any responsibility 
assumed, when this sense of God is active and 
constant. To be about His *' Father's busi- 
ness '' was our Lord's secret of untiring serv- 
ice and unalloyed satisfaction; and we, His 
followers, work out the mission of a complete 
life while we feel that God works in us to will 
and to do ! 

Hence Paul wrote to Corinth: '* Let every 
man, in that calling wherein he is found, 
therein abide with God.'* When renewing 
grace finds one engaged in an honest calling, 
however humble, he has no need to change his 
vocation, but only to take a new and divine 
partner, henceforth abiding with God in his 
daily sphere of work. Jesus of Nazareth 
wrought at the bench of a carpenter until, at 
thirty. He entered on His public ministry, 
teaching us that no workman need be ashamed 
of his craft when he follows it as God's serv- 
ant ; whether it be the bench of the carpenter, 
the shoemaker, or the judge ; the loom of the 
weaver or the wheel of the potter ; the desk of 
the author, the studio of the artist, or the 
throne of the emperor — ^wherever service is 
rendered to God there is a pulpit of witness, a 
shrine of worship. 

From the letters of a humble monkj^ known 

169 



MODERN SERMONS 



as Brother Lawrence, it appears that, in a 
menial office, as cook in a convent, he was led, 
by this suggestion of Jeremy Taylor about 
the practise of God's presence, so to cul- 
tivate the habit of thinking of God as ever 
with him, a partner in his lowly calling, 
that it became easier to think of Him as pres- 
ent than as absent ; and that convent kitchen 
became as another garden of Eden, and every 
day as one of the days of heaven upon earth. 

This sense of the divine presence is in every 
way so helpful to prayer that in exact pro- 
portion to its vividness and constancy is 
prayer eflEective and powerful. 

Every element and exercise of prayer is de- 
pendent upon it. It prompts the highest 
thanksgiving, for it proves that G^ is and 
reveals Him as He is : we get glimpses of His 
character and glory which are the inspiration 
of gratitude. To know what God is, is of tar 
more consequence than to know what He does. 
He is love, and therefore all His outgoings are 
lovely and loving : the stream is as the spring. 

We have seen that to realize the divine pres- 
ence leads to most heart-searching contrition 
and confession, because in the light of His 
purity and holiness sin's enormity and de- 
formity are most clearly seen ; and in the con- 
trast of the glory of His goodness our 
unworthiness and ungratefulness become 
awfully apparent. In like manner, when the 
mind is filled with new views of God, of Hia 

170 



PIERSON 



truth aud grace, and the reality and verity of 
His promise, supplications and intercessions 
become the confident appeals of those who 
** have boldness and access with confidence by 
the faith of Him/' 

There is thus no side or aspect of true 
prayer which this vision of God in the closet 
does not touch. Contemplation of God com- 
pels contemplation of self; a new sense of des- 
titution, degradation, depravity; a deeper 
contrition, a sincerer confession; a more im- 
portunate entreaty; a new repentance toward 
God, a new faith in God, a new separation 
unto God, a new power with God. 

Prayer in its highest reach, is worship— 
worth-ship — ^ascribing worth to God, describ- 
ing His worth in adoring praise, inscribing 
His worth on the forefront of the miter, the 
palms of the hands, the door-posts of the 
house, the gates whereby we go out and in; 
keeping before us and others His infinite ex- 
cellence. Worship is more than thanksgiving 
and praise, including both, but above both in 
adoration, the whole being going out to Him 
in devout words, or in groanings and raptures 
which cannot be uttered, the mute language 
of emotions and affections which find no ade- 
quate articulate utterance. 

iWorship is the form of prayer which echoes 
in the Apocalypse when the door is opened 
into heaven: '* Thou art worthy, Lord! " 
Bedeemed throngs and angelic hosts, lost in 

171 



MODERN SERMONS 



the vision of infinite excellence and worthi- 
ness, rest not day or night from such adora- 
tion. To get new apprehension and apprecia- 
tion of these adorable perfections is tiie ideal 
of prayerful communion. 

In the Twenty-ninth Psalm, the Psalm of 
Nature, all creation is figuratively viewed as 
God's temple, the vast cathedral where He is 
throned, and all the forces of the material uni- 
verse are vocal with His praise. The boom of 
the great waters sounds the deep diapason, 
the gentle breezes breathe melodies, and the 
peal of the thunders rolls its pedal bass, while 
cyclones and whirlwinds add majesty to the 
chorus. Lightnings fiash like electric lamps, 
and giant oaks and immortal cedars bow like 
worshipers. In this Psalm of Nature it is 
declared that '* In his temple, everything doth 
shout, glory! ** 

To devout souls who abide in the secret 
chambers with Qod, the closet itself becomes 
another grand cathedral, where every power 
and faculty of body and mind, soul and spirit, 
shout '* Glory! '* Memory brings her grate- 
ful stores to lay them at God's feet; imagina- 
tion, the poet and painter, weaves choicest 
tributes and paints glorious pictures, as aids 
to faith; reason, the logician, constructs its 
most eloquent arguments to set forth God's 
claim on universal homage and love ; the un- 
derstanding, overawed before the infinite 
Mind, can only mutely confess its own insig- 

172 



PIERSON 



nificance; conscience, the judge, pronounces 
Him perfect in all moral beauty; the will, the 
sovereign of man, lays down its imperial scep- 
ter at His feet who is alone worthy to rule ; and 
affection, despairing of ever responding fully 
to such perfect love, breaks her alabaster flask 
and fills the whole house with the odor of her 
anointing. It is the closet's revealings that 
prompt us to cry, '* Who is like, Lord, unto 
theel** 

Our Lord's first lesson on prayer, is, there- 
fore. Enter into thy closet. The first rung in 
the ladder of ascent is faith in the actuality, 
reality, verity of the divine existence. As the 
primary condition of prayer, '* he that cometh 
to God must believe that he is, and is a re- 
warder of them that diligently seek him.'* 
Of what use indeed to pray — nay, what but 
an affront, rather than an approach, to Qod — 
if we do not believe that He exists ; and what 
is the closet for, if not to cultivate those spir- 
itual senses which alone can perceive and re- 
ceive Himt 

Let us not dismiss this primary lesson with- 
out once more recalling and impressing its 
central truth, that communion with God is the 
essential secret of all holiness of character, 
conduct and service; and that meditation on 
the divine character and perfections prepares 
us not only for prevailing supplication but 
for reception of divine blessing. Let us think 
of the secret chamber as a place of vision — of 

173 



MODERN SfiRMONS 



contemplation of God, making possible new 
impressions, discoveries into h5s nature, reve- 
lations of His goodness, impartations of His 
power. Thus it comes to pass that before we 
call He answers, and while we are yet speak- 
ing He hears. Communion proves mutual — 
both an outgo, and an income — ^a voice that 
answers as well as a voice that cries. 

What a new factor in our spiritual life 
would such prayer prove ! 

The most devout find it not only profitable 
but natural to make the first exercise in closet 
devotion mute meditation. The prayer of 
Habakkuk hints that this is becoming to all 
true worship : 

" The Lord is in his holy temple! 

Let all the earth keep silence before him." 

So, when, in the Apocalypse, that vision of 
the prayers of saints in the golden censer is 
about to be disclosed, the mysterious an- 
nouncement which precedes it is : 

'* There was silence in Heaven about the space of 
half an hour," 

as though such silence were the only fit prel- 
ude and preparation for a revelation of such 
magnificence and significance. 

God is here ; but what if I know it not t Tjet 
me tarry till I do know it. Then how much 
added power will come into my communing, 
and with what new anointing shall I go forUi 
to life's work and witness and warfare ! 

174 



PLUMMER 
CHRISTIAN UNITY 



ALFRED PLUMMER 

Ex-PRiNCiPiL of Durham University 
(retired, 1902); bom Heworth, near 
Gateshead, England, Feb. 17, 1841; edu- 
cated at Lancing CoU^e, Exeter College^ 
Oxford; Fellow Trinity College, Oxford, 
1865-75; tutor and dean 1867-74; Master 
of University Collie, Durham, 1874- 
1902; sub-warden University of Durham, 
1896-1902; author of translations of sev- 
eral of Dr. Dollinger's works; commen- 
taries on 2 Peter, and Jude, John's Gospel 
and Epistles, The Pastoral Epistles, Epis- 
tles of James and Jude, Luke's GN>spel, 
2 Corinthians, "Introduction to Joshua 
and Nehemiah," "Handbook on the 
Church of the Early' Fathers," "Lec- 
tures on English Church History.'* 



CHRISTIAN UNITY 
Alfred Plummeb, D.D. 

" Other sheep I have which are not of this fold: 
them also I must bring, and they shall hear m/y voice; 
and they shall become one flock, one shepherd," — 
John 10 : 16. 

" A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love 
one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also 
love one another. By this shall all men know that ye 
are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." — 
John 13 : 34-35. 

THE second of these passages teUs us the 
necessary result of the f ulfihnent of the 
prediction and promise made in the 
first. When all the sheep have been gathered 
in and they have become one flock under one 
Shepherd, then the component members of 
the flock will find that their relation to the 
Shepherd involves a similar relation to one an- 
other. Love, especially on the Shepherd's 
part, is the bond which connects each one of 
them with the Shepherd — a love so strong, 
that He is ready to die for them : love, there- 
fore, is the bond which must unite each mem- 
ber of the flock with his fellows, and in this 
each ought to aim at imitating the love of the 
Shepherd. 

But perhaps, with almost equal truth, we 
might reverse this, and make the mutual love 

VII— 12 177 



MODERN SERMONS 



not the result of the oneness of the flock, but 
the means of producing the oneness. Christ 
predicts that a time will come when the sheep 
who are not in the fold will be united with' 
those who are in the fold, and that they will 
become one body, with Him at its head. And 
we may say that, when He gives to His follow- 
ers the new commandment to love one an- 
other, even as He has loved them, He is telling 
them how to become one flock under Himself. 

Perhaps it does not matter much which we 
regard as cause, and which as effect. The im- 
portant point is, that the two facts are indis- 
solubly connected by some law of divine 
causation. If there is love such as His there 
will be unity, and if there is unity under Him 
there will be love. Consequently, the presence 
of either fact may, in proportion to the ful- 
ness of its presence, be taken as evidence of 
the presence bt the other; and, what is an 
equally important influence for our guidance, 
the absence of either fact may, in proportion 
to the completeness of its absence, be regarded 
as evidence of the absence of the other. If 
there is no love there will be no vital unity, 
and unless there is vital unity there will be 
no real love. 

Unity, not uniformity. The two things are 
widely different, and either may exist without 
the other. Indeed, it may be doubted whether 
uniformity is not more of a hindrance than a 
help to unity. Uniformity is certainly a seri- 

178 



PLUMMER 



ous limitation of liberty; and liberty is the 
soil in which living unity is likely to flourish. 
Liberty is a sign of the presence of God's 
Spirit; *' Where the spirit of the Lord is, 
there is liberty; " and where the spirit of the 
Lord is not, neither the unity which Christ 
promised, nor the love which He commanded, 
is likely to spring up. 

And it is very unfortunate that, in one of 
the two texts which we are considering, our 
Bibles have made us familiar with a mis-trans- 
lation, which seems to imply that Christ prom- 
ised, and therefore enjoined, uniformity, when 
He does nothing of the kind. The Authorized 
Version makes Him say that, when the sheep 
which are not of this fold are brought, ** there 
shall be one fold, one shepherd.'* What He 
does say is, that, when the others are brought, 
'* they shall become one flock, one shepherd. '* 
Pew corrections made in the Revised Ver- 
sion are more important than this. The mis- 
take originated in Jerome's translation, where 
we have 4;he same Latin word to represent two 
different Greek words. Wyclif followed him ; 
and, although Tyndale and Coverdale cor- 
rected the error, the Authorized Version un- 
fortunately followed Wyclif. Christ says noth- 
ing about there being one fold, which would 
imply uniformity: what He promises, and en- 
courages us to work for and to pray for, is 
** one flock," in which there may be large 
measures of diversity along with the essential 



179 



MODERN SERMONS 



unity of belonging to one and the same Shep- 
herd. 

It is impossible to estimate the mischief 
that has been done by this unhappy substitu- 
tion of '' fold '' for *' flock " in this import- 
ant text. Throughout the Middle Ages, few 
people in Western Europe knew Greek, and 
Jerome's Vulgate led them to believe that 
Christ had used the word '* fold '* in both 
places, and that He had inculcated a doctrine, 
which the change of word was perhaps in- 
tended to exclude. The doctrine, that the 
sheep not in the fold must be brought in, un- 
til there is one fold, with all the sheep penned 
within it, gave immense support to the claims 
of the Roman Catholic Church to be the one 
church, outside which there is no salvation. 
What Christ says is that those outside the 
then existing fold, equally with those who 
were in the fold, shaU become one flock, of 
which He is the Shepherd. Christ had come 
to break down *' the wall of partition " be- 
tween the Jewish Church and the Gentiles. 
In the gospel, the distinction between Jew and 
Gentile was to cease, and the salvation, which 
had been offered first to the Jew, became the 
common inheritance of all. 

In what sense was the command which 
Christ gave to His followers, to love one an- 
other, '* a new commandment? '* 

It may be said to be as old as the human 
race, a fimdamental instinct, known even to 

180 



PLUMMER 



the heathen. Wherever human beings lived 
together, the obligation to mutual affection 
existed, and was attested by inward prompt- 
ings, of which each was conscious, and by in- 
ward reproaches, whenever the law of mutual 
affection was grossly violated, as by grievous 
injury or murder. Even to the Gentile, whose 
life was often one long transgression of it, the 
commandment to love his fellows was not, in 
the strictest sense, new. 

Still less was it new to the Israelite. Every 
well-instructed Jew knew that it stood written 
in the book of Leviticus: '* Thou shalt not 
take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against 
the children of thy people, but thou shalt love 
thy neighbor as thyself. ' ' If the obligation to 
love one's fellow-man was as old as the human 
race, the obligation to love him as oneself was 
as old as Judaism. It lies at the basis of 
many of the minute ordinances of the Jewish 
code. 

What then does our Lord mean by calling it 
new? 

First, it had been promulgated afresh, and 
in much clearer language. The original in- 
stinct of mutual affection, bom in heaven and 
renewed in Paradise, had long since been al- 
most forgotten. Even by those who dimly re- 
membered it, and at times feebly recognized 
it, it was constantly ignored. In most men, 
other instincts far more congenial to man's 
fallen will, had stifled it or driven it out of 



181 



MODERN SERMONS 



court. Its faint whisperings were scarcely 
heard among the strident voices of selfishness 
and passion. A Plato or a Seneca might here 
and there suggest precepts of self-restraint 
and benevolence. But '* what were they 
among so many? '^ And what chance had 
they against the self-indulgence which gener- 
ations of practise had stereotyped into a habit, 
and which philosophers had formulated into 
a system? 

Nor did the Jew need a new proclamation 
of the law of love much less than the heathen 
did. The Jew had so narrowed the scope of 
the command to love his neighbor, and had so 
overlaid it with qualifications and exceptions, 
that the word of God was made of none effect. 
He was quick to raise the previous question: 
** And who is my neighbor? " And when it 
was evident that, at any rate, a man's own 
parents must be considered as among his 
neighbors, there was the monstrous device of 
Corban to free him from obligation. And, as 
regards all mankind outside Judaism, the di- 
vine command had been not merely evaded, 
but reversed, by the unholy addition, *' hate 
thine enemy." 

But Christ's law of love was new for other 
reasons than because it had been published 
anew with greater clearness and emphasis. It 
was not merely the old instinct of our un- 
fallen nature, dragged from oblivion, and 
quickened into new life. It was not merely 

182 



PLUMMER 



the old Jewish precept, freed from glosses and 
perversions, and set forth once more in its 
original simplicity and comprehensiveness. 
It was all this ; but it was a great deal more. 
It was the old instinct, the old precept, so 
transfigured, enlarged, and glorified, as to be 
indeed ** a new commandment "; new in its 
extent ; new in its sanction. It was no longer 
the old standard of loving one's neighbor as 
oneself. It was no longer the old sanction of 
loving him, because God would punish us if 
we did not. '* Even as I have loved you, that 
ye also love one another ": that is the new 
standard; that is the new sanction. Not the 
measure of our love for ourselves is to be our 
standard, but the measure of Christ's love for 
us. Not fear of God's judgments, not even 
obedience to His commands, is to be the main- 
spring of our love, but love itself. His love 
is to kindle our love ; and the newborn fire is 
to know no limit but that of the fire that 
kindled it. *' Even as I have loved you." In 
determining our duty to others, it is not 
enough to ask, ** What, if our positions were 
reversed, should I wish them to do to me? " 
That is a very practical and useful question : 
it will help to clear the ground. But it is not 
the final question ; and it may lead to serious 
mistakes ; for we sometimes wish others to do 
to us what would be anything but beneficial. 
The final and the safe question is this: 
** What would Jesus Christ have me to do? '* 



183 



MODERN SERMONS 



And, when we have answered it, and find our 
selfish wills shrinking back from the answer, 
let us confront them with another question: 
'* What has Jesus Christ done for me ? What 
is He still doing for me? " ** Even as I 
have loved you, that ye also love one another. ' ' 

Let us ask ourselves what we are doing 
towards the fulfilment of the divine promise, 
'* one flock, one shepherd/' and the fulfilment 
of the divine command,'' that ye love one an- 
other, even as I have loved you. " It is a test 
question. Nay, by the declaration of Christ 
Himself, it is the test question. '* By this 
shall all men know that ye are my disciples, 
if ye have love one to another.'* This is the 
true note of the Church; not miracles; mira- 
cles are no absolute test of truth; "there 
shall arise false Christs and false prophets, 
and shall show great signs and wonders, so as 
to lead astray, if possible, even the elect; '* 
not formularies nor discipline, for both of 
these may change, and a past discipline may 
be a present heresy; not numbers, numbers 
are no test of truth; truth may be on the 
side of an Athanasius or a Galileo against the 
large majority of Christians. The ultimate 
absolute test is love. Where is the man who 
loves his neighbors, loves his opponents, and 
loves them because Christ has loved him, and 
as Christ has loved him ? There, in the noblest 
form, is the true Christian. 

What have we done, what are we doing day 

184 



PLUMMER 



by day, to produce this character in our- 
selves? What are we doing to produce that 
peace and unity among Christians, which de- 
pends, not upon uniformity of worship, or 
identity of dogma, but upon fervency of lovet 
What are we doing to make mankind, and es- 
pecially those with whom we come most 
closely in contact, healthier, happier, and 
holier? Those of us who keep any kmd of 
watch over our thoughts, and words, and 
actions will hardly be able to reply to ques- 
tions such as these in a way that would pro- 
duce solid self-satisfaction. 

Those unworthy suspicions of the motives 
of others; those pitiful jealousies of our 
neighbor's advancement ; that diabolical gloat- 
ing over what brings shame or loss to others — 
are thoughts of this kind quite ui^nown to 
us? And then, those impatient rejoinders, 
which seem to imply that the whole world is 
bound to satisfy us ; thdse outbursts of anger, 
when our wills have been crossed ; those harsh 
criticisms of the conduct of other people ; that 
readiness to repeat what is discreditable to 
our neighbor, without any certainty that it is 
true, or that any good can come of repeating 
it — can we honestly plead *' not guilty *' to 
such things as these 1 And if we made even a 
rough calculation of the amount of time and 
energy we day by day expend upon unselfish 
attention to the wants of others, and the 
amount which we devote to the promotion of 



185 



MODERN SERMONS 



onr own personal interests and pleasures, 
what kind of a balance sheet could we present 
to our consciences and to God 1 How many of 
our prayers are directed towards alleviating 
the sufferings and strengthening the charac- 
ters of others rather than towards getting our 
own personal wants supplied t We often read 
newspapers as a mere amusement ; and among 
the tilings that we find interesting are the 
records •f the calamities, and it may be the 
disgrace, of other people. How callously we 
read it all, with scarcely a moment's sympa- 
thy, and altogether without even a momentary 
prayer for those whose sufferings have been 
a pastime to us ! 

In short, the love of Christ does not con- 
strain us, does not fence us in, so as to keep 
us from squandering upon self those affections 
and energies which ought to be devoted to the 
service of others ; and thus the divine law of 
love is only fitfully and feebly fulfilled by us, 
if at all. We look perhaps with indignation 
upon the animosities which separate class 
from class, and with contempt upon the con- 
troversial bitterness which divides Christian 
from Christian. But we forget how largely 
our own lack of the spirit of love and unity 
has contributed towards perpetuating the ob- 
stacles, which still hinder the realization of 
the divine ideal of ** one flock, one Shep- 
herd.'' 



086 



PORTER 

i THE SKSNS OF GOD IN THE LIFB 

I OF MAN 



FRANK CHAMBERUN PORTER 

Professor of Biblical theology, YaJe Di- 
Tinity School; bom, Beloit, Wis., Janu* 
ary 5, 1859; graduated at Beloit, 1880; 
studied divinity at Chicago, 1881,2; 
Hartford, 1884,5; Yale, 1885,6; Ph.D., 
Yale, 1889; D.D., Beloit, 1897; ordained 
to the Congregational ministry; contrib- 
Hted articles to the Hastings Bible Dic- 
tionary on "Apocrypha," "Judith/* 
''Proselyte," "Book of Revelation," etc.; 
author of "Yecer Hara," in "Biblical 
and Semitic Studies," "Messages of the 
Apocalyptical Writers," etc 



THE SIGNS OF GOD IN THE LIFE OF 
MAN 

Pbof. Fbane C. Porter, D.D. 

** The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, lonff* 
suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self' 
control. . . , If we Uve by the Spirit, by the 
Spirit let us also wallc."'^al. 5 : 22, 23, 25. 

WHERE ought we to look for the hand of 
God in our world t What are the 
proper signs of His presence 1 What 
are the things that belong to Him and are His 
witnesses to us ? Such questions often perplex 
us. The supernatural seems to have vanished 
from a world in which science teaches us to 
look for law, in which many mysteries, once 
awe-inspiring, have been explained away, 
many powers once unaccountable and uncon- 
trollable have been bound and set to do us 
service. In no earlier age has the merely ex- 
traordinary had so little power to stir religious 
feelings and call forth religious faith as in 
ours. What is to become of religion, we may 
ask ourselves, when we are made incapable of 
seeing in any temple the special abode of God, 
or in any rite His special presence and deed, 
or in any living man a peculiar knowledge of 
God or the possession of an authentic calling 
to speak and act for Him, or in any book a 

189 



MODERN SERMONS 



fully miraenlons quality as God's literal and 
inviolable word, or in any single, momentary 
experience the unique and epoch-making in- 
tervention of the divine Spirit? 

These questions press so hard npon us, that 
some are inclined to seize upon the remaining 
mysteries of life, the unexplained residuum, 
or some new wonder that science has not yet 
reduced to order and simplicity, and to say 
that there is something supernatural left in 
the world after all ; we will fasten our faith to 
that, and will still believe in (jk)d and soul and 
immortality. Some one somewhere has seen 
what the senses cou^d not have imparted, 
therefore Qod is, and our hope is not vain. 
Some one was inwardly warned and escaped 
an imminent danger, therefore there is a di- 
vine providence. Some one has suddenly 
risen from a long sickness, therefore the world 
is not aU matter and law, but there is a divine 
Spirit in it. So some are saying. But others 
feel that if Qod is to be seen only in out of the 
way comers of the world which science has 
not yet explored He will soon disappear alto- 
gether; and that the only refuge for religious 
faith is to find Qod everywhere and in every- 
thing. The universe is, throughout, His work, 
His self-expression. The whole world is God 
Himself thinking and energizing. The ele- 
ments and forces of the material world are 
the energy of His will. The continuity of 
nature, the evolution of natural and human 

190 



PORTER 



history, are the orderly and purposeful opera- 
tions of His reason. 

Is this popular pantheism the best that we 
can do if we are unable to resort to miracle as 
evidence of God? The divinity of the uni- 
verse as it is, is a doctrine that presents diflS- 
culties to the mind, and is still less satisfying 
to the heart. It may be a sufficient gospel to 
a few poetic and philosophic souls, but to the 
average man it would mean, I fear, the evapo- 
ration of any living faith in God, and the 
justification of worldliness in ideals and in 
conduct. 

But we are not shut up to a choice between 
these two opposite ways of looking for Qod. 
There is another way of which one of the 
greatest men in the history of religion is a 
prophet, the apostle Paul, and for which one 
of the greatest words in the language of re- 
ligion is the expression, the word Spirit. 

If we were obliged to classify Paul as either 
a supematuralist or a pantheist, we should no 
doubt put him in the former category. But 
he does not use the word supernatural; he 
uses the word Spirit ; and if we set out to learn 
of him where and how God is to be seen and 
felt by us, we shall soon discover how much 
better for the purposes of religion the word 
Spirit is. 

To us, I fear, the word spirit is vague if not 
unreal. This is partly because Greek and He- 
brew elements are mixed in our idea of the 



191 



MODERN SERMONS 



word. In Hebrew, spirit was the everyday 
word for wind. It was also used in the 
sense of breath. The Spirit of God was, there- 
fore, the wind or the breath of God. It was 
not, as the Greeks were inclined to think of it, 
a refined substance, or ether, that penetrated 
all things and filled the universe ; but rather 
an unseen but mighty force, the wind which 
comes and goes as it will, but has power to 
sweep all before it; the breath which is the 
mysterious sign and power of life. So the 
Spirit of God is simply the working power, 
the living, and live-giving presence of God in 
human life. It would be proper to ask a 
Greek philosopher what the spirit is in its na- 
ture; but Paul was a Hebrew, and the only 
question that can rightly be asked of him is, 
^'What does the Spirit do? What are the 
operations and effects of this divine energy? 
Paul is quite ready with his answer. The 
supreme effect of the Spirit, that is the su- 
preme work of Qod's power in the world, is 
Christianity itself, and the supreme embodi- 
ment of the Spirit or presence and power of 
God is Christ. 

We ask what we are to think of in order to 
give concreteness and reality to our concep- 
tion of this vague word spirit. A Greek 
would tell us to think of ether, and perhaps to 
add to this the idea of energy, and to this the 
idea of reason ; a Hebrew would have us think 
of the wind and the breath of life; but Paul, 

192 



PORTER 



Hebrew though he was, tells us to think of 
Jesus Christ. By the resurrection, he afllrms, 
Christ became life-giving Spirit. The Lord 
Christ is the Spirit, he boldly declares ; and he 
often uses the strange phrase '' in Christ 
Jesus ** in place of the familiar phrase ** in 
the Spirit,'* to describe the life that is lived 
preeminently in the presence and by the in- 
dwelling power of God. They are mistaken, 
then, who think that we must get out of the 
natural order of things to find the divine ; and 
they are equally mistaken who say that we can 
see Gtod only in the universe as a whole. The 
divine is to be seen in a person, a historical 
character, and is to be experienced as the 
power of that person in us and over us. 

But perhaps this definition of the Spirit as 
Jesus Christ is to us only a new enigma. Is 
Paul meaning to describe the metaphysical 
nature of the exalted Christ? No, not that; 
certainly not that primarily and chiefly. 
Paul is still a Hebrew, and when he says, 
** the Lord is the Spirit," he is speaking not 
in terms of substance and nature, but in terms 
of power and eflfect. So our proper question 
again is, . by what effects then does Jesus 
Christ show Himself to be the Spirit, the pres- 
ence and power of God in human life. Paul 
is ready and definite in his reply to this ques- 
tion also ; and I believe, that in the things in 
which Paul saw the chief effects of the Christ- 
spirit in the life of men we may still find our 

vn— 18 193 



MODERN SERMONS 



best evidence of Gk)d and our most living sense 
of His presence. 

In the first place Paul found in the Chris- 
tian confession of faith a work of the divine 
Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. This Christian 
confession contains two great articles, the 
Fatherhood of God, and the Lordship of 
Christ. It is the divine Spirit, then, that ena- 
bles us to call God, Father. ** Because ye are 
sons God sent forth the spirit of his Son into 
our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.'* These 
familiar words do not mean to us all that they 
should mean. ** Abba '* is the word 
*' Father '' in the mother tongue of Jesus. It 
is the very word with which He spoke to God : 
the word in which His inmost faith was 
summed up; the word His disciples caught 
from His lips and were taught by Him to use. 
The word contains in itself the religion of 
Jesus. Surely there is no more sacred word in. 
all human speech than the word * * Abba. " Had 
no one ever called God, Abba, before? Yes 
and no. In the way and in the sense in which 
Jesus used it, no ! It can be so used only by 
one who feels and knows that he is a son of 
God, and it became the characteristic first cry 
of those who became sons of (Jod through 
Jesus Christ. No wonder that even Greek- 
speaking Christians used the word which 
Christ used, imitating the very accents of His 
voice, though it was a foreign tongue, when 
they received from Him the knowledge that 

194 



PORTER 



God was a father and the power to call Him 
their Father. No wonder that to Paul this 
was a divine power, beyond the capacity of 
man, a work of the Spirit. That men can call 
God, Father, can know that they are sons of 
God, is a wonder in human history, a thing 
beyond the bounds of the natural and the 
human. That is what Paul means by saying 
that it is the Spirit in our hearts that cries 
** Abba.'' If this universal Christian con- 
fession of the Fatherhood of God does not 
seem to us anything supernatural then it may 
be that our idea of the supernatural is mis- 
taken. We are looking for it in outward or 
lower regions, not where it surely lies, in the 
supreme experiences of the heart. Or it may 
be that our own sense of sonship and of the 
Fatherhood of God is indeed nothing extraor- 
dinary. Then let Paul's sense of the divine- 
ness of the power which alone can enable the 
human heart really to say *' Father " to its 
God, rebuke our too easy conventional con- 
fession. 

The second element in the Christian con- 
fession seemed to Paul no less wonderful, no 
less divine, than the first. No one, he declares, 
can call Jesus, Lord, but by the Spirit of God. 
If the word " Abba " summed up the religion 
of Jesus, the confession that Jesus is Lord was 
the foundation and sum of early apostolic 
Christianity. It is often referred to by Paul 
as the distinctive and sufScient Christian 



195 



MODERN SERMONS 



creed. If it is one half of the Christian re- 
ligion to share with Jesus the sense of sonship, 
and to use with Him the word Father ; it is, 
Paul would say, the other half to bow in rev- 
erence and worship before this Jesus whose 
sonship we share. To imitate Him as the ideal 
man, and at the same time to be humble before 
Him as the manifestation of the divine, is the 
nature of Christianity. Hardly less wonder- 
ful in human history than Christ's conscious- 
ness of God which the word Abba contains, is 
this early exaltation of the man, Jesus, even 
by those who had known Him as a familiar 
friend, to the place of Lordship. How out of 
the lowly life and despised death of Jesus, 
grew the confident and conquering faith of 
the apostolic age in the divine exaltation and 
kingly rule of Christ t It is a puzzle before 
which historians, the more deeply they study 
it, are perplexed and baffled the more. It is 
natural that Jesus should have gained and 
kept the love and the reverence of men but 
their worship of Him rose above what was 
natural. It did not seem natural to Paul him- 
self, and he did not establish and defend it 
by rational argument. It seemed to him a 
supernatural thing, a work of the Spirit of 
Christ Himself upon men. That is what he 
meant by saying that no one can say Jesus 
is Lord but by the Holy Spirit. 

If our own belief that Jesus is Lord does 
not seem to us supernatural, a work of Ctod, 

196 



PORTER 



then it may be that our idea of the supernat- 
ural is perverse or unworthy ; that it is easier 
for us to use the word of what is inexplicable 
and mysterious in things of sense, than in the 
things of the inner life ; or it may be that our 
belief in Christ's Lordship is really not ex- 
traordinary, but simply an easy acquiescence 
in words taught us from our youth, in ideas 
current in our circle. If so, Paul's teaching 
that no one can call Jesus Lord but by the 
Spirit of God, should rebuke our easy faith 
and reveal its shallowness. Let us determine 
to make Christ in truth the divine Lord of our 
lives until His mastery of us becomes in us, 
as it has become in others, a power effecting a 
more than natural, a more than human trans- 
formation. Then we shall have in ourselves 
and give to others that evidence of the divine 
for which we ai^. 

By the side of the Christian confession of 
faith Paul puts the Christian hope as a thing 
divine in human life, a work and evidence of 
the Spirit. This also has two sides. Because 
of Christ we hope for the coming of the king- 
dom of God, and also for an immortal life 
with God. 

Why should we expect that righteousness 
and peace and joy will at last prevail on 
earth t Why should we expect, as Paul did, 
that even the hardness and sin of men, the un- 
belief of the Jews, and the idolatry and im- 
morality of the heathen, should all somehow 



197 



MODERN SERMONS 



end, should even, in the divine plan, contrib- 
ute to their own ending, and bring to pass the 
reign of God? Why should we have faith 
that the whole creation is to be delivered from 
the bondage of corruption into the liberty of 
the glory of the children of God? It is God 
who implants this hope in the human heart, 
hope for that which we see not, hope for that 
of which the things we see give no convincing 
evidence. And this hope itself is a great crea- 
tion of the divine Spirit, the Spirit of Christ 
in the world. Ever since He taught men to 
pray, ** Thy kingdom come," Christians have 
more and more believed in a future time when 
God's will shall be done on earth as in heaven. 
But the other side of the Christian hope is 
no less a wonder, a sign of God in the world 
It is the Spirit in men that is the power of 
faith in immortality. Surely the hope of an 
immortal life is a wonderful thing in this 
world of ours. Nature knows nothing of it. 
Our senses, our experiences, tell us of nothing 
but death. So long as Christ creates in men a 
confident and joyful hope in an eternal life, 
surely we may not say that there is nothing 
supernatural in the world. And if our own 
hope of immortality is too hesitant and vague 
to seem to us more than a human wish, should 
we not pray that the Spirit of the inunortal 
Christ may dwell more fully in us, that we 
may share the experience of those to whom the 
eternal life has been a glad certainty, a quite 

198 



PORTER 



unearthly light upon the dark places of 
human life. 

But when men hope they also pray; and to 
Paul true prayer was itself proof of the real- 
ity of Him to whom it is addrest. Prayer 
is more than human aspiration. At its 
heights it is a divinely given power. The 
Spirit helps our human weakness, praying in 
us and for us. Is there not indeed in the true 
prayer of a trustful soul something that does 
not belong to nature, or by nature to ment 
And if our prayer is not to ourselves or to 
others an evidence of the indwelling of the 
Spirit of God, are we not to be blamed ? 

In the third place, the Christian character 
and life, the Christian love and service, were 
to Paul divine, and furnished convincing evi- 
dence of the presence of God in His world. 
Perhaps the energy with which Paul aflftnned 
the absolute incapacity of men to do right by 
any exercise of their natural powers may seem 
to some of us excessive. Perhaps we may feel 
that his conviction that apart from Christ all 
men are in hopeless bondage to sin and death 
goes beyond the power of Christian experience 
to verify, perhaps beyond the intention of 
Jesus Himself. But we cannot but admire 
without reserve and with true reverence his 
prophetic insight into the divine quality and 
source of the Christlike character. Our ad- 
miration will increase when we put this dis- 
covery of Paul over against the common 



199 



MODERN SERMONS 



Jewish and Christian ideas as to the gifts and 
performances that best deserved to be called 
effects of the divine Spirit, signs of the pres- 
ence of God. 

It was common in Paul's day, and was es- 
pecially characteristic of the early Christian 
conmiunities, to look for the divine in what 
struck the senses or amazed the mind as a 
thing of superhuman power or inexplicable 
mystery. It was not the Corinthian church 
only that put the highest value on the ecstatic 
and unintelligible speaking with tongues. 
The miraculous was everjrwhere taken to be 
the proper evidence of the divine. Paul was 
by no means a modem scientific questioner of 
miracle. He took for granted both the fact 
and its validity as a sign and proof of the 
divine Spirit. , But Paul was more than a 
miracle-worker and a man of ecstasies and vi- 
sions. All these things were in him controlled 
by moral ideals, tested and checked by moral 
uses and values. Nothing is newer and noth- 
ing greater in Paul than this, that he knew 
how to turn the mighty tide of enthusiasm of 
the first Christian age into moral channels; 
to make of it the power of inner character and 
of outgoing service. 

'* The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, 
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 
meekness, self-control.'* These words are so 
familiar and self-evident to us that we forget 
that Paul was the one who created this use of 

200 



PORTER 



the word Spirit. It is to Paul that we owe 
what he owed to Jesus, the knowledge that 
these simple but supreme human virtues are 
the greatest work of God, the supreme evi- 
dence of Him in human life. When Paul says 
that these human qualities of character are 
the fruit of the Spirit, he does not mean that 
they are excellent; he means that they are 
superhuman in quality and in source; he 
means that we men are not in possession of 
them by nature and cannot get possession of 
them by our own efforts. He does not mean so 
to change the common meaning of the word 
Spirit as to say that we are to see its operation 
in common rather than in uncommon things. 
He is not moving in the direction of panthe- 
ism, and looking for the divine in things as 
they are. Eather he is revealing the uncom- 
monness and the wonder of the Christlike 
character. Paul found, as Jesus did, that the 
Jews with all their zeal for righteousness did 
not set their ideal high enough, or make the 
attainment of it hard enough. The hardest 
and the highest thing in the world is the per- 
fect rule of love in a human heart and life. 
Paul would teach us that nothing deserves to 
be called a work of God, a fruit of the Spirit, 
more than this ; and indeed that without this 
nothing whatever, no talent however rare and 
marvelous, no deed however mighty, has the 
stamp of divinity upon it. Nothing but this 
is the meaning of the thirteenth chapter of 



201 



MODERN SERMONS 



First Corinthians. No gifts were more valued 
than the gifts of tongues, of prophecy, of the 
knowledge of mysteries, of the i)ower to work 
miracles. No deeds were so admired as un- 
bounded charity, and the faith and courage 
of the martyr. But without love Paul de- 
clares all these, even the last, to be nothing. 
Love is the supreme power and sign and 
wonder of God in the world. The Spirit of 
God is the Spirit of love. Paul does not in- 
deed mean that love is so complete a miracle 
in the human heart, (Jod so entirely its author, 
that we have no moral choice to make in the 
matter, no struggle to undergo, no victory to 
win. Having made miracle in the highest 
sense moral, he does not half lose his achieve- 
ment by making morals in the old sense mirac- 
ulous. He has far- too sound a moral nature 
for that. He knew indeed that the new power 
which he felt in himself and saw in others to 
live a life of love was no human power. Yet 
he knew that it was now fully his own. It was 
not a power of (Jod over him compelling him 
against his will to obey the law of love. It was 
the power of God in him making him able and 
free to love. It is the evil power of selfishness 
which remains a power not ourselves that en- 
slaves us; but '* where the spirit of the Lord 
is there is liberty.'* The idea that because 
Christ is in us the power of righteousness we 
are therefore to make no moral effort, is a com- 
plete perversion of Paul's thought; and when 

202 



PORTER 



someone drew that false inference from his 
words he rejected it with all the energy of his 
being. He warns Christians against one-sided 
trust in Christ as often as against one-sided 
trust in themselves. The Christian walk is still 
the urgent task of the Christian believer, not 
less but rather more because it is the work in 
us of the Spirit of Christ. That Spirit works 
not against but only in and with the moral 
will. ' * Walk by the Spirit, ' ' Paul commands. 
'' Be led by the Spirit." '* If we live by the 
Spirit by the Spirit let us also walk. " The di- 
vine miracle of Christian character is a reality 
for faith to recognize, but also, no less, an 
ideal for effort to actualize. Here, in the 
Christlike character, Paul would say, we are 
to see the supreme deed and most convincing 
evidence of God in the world; and therefore 
we are bound so to live that this presence of 
God shall be actual and manifest among men. 
Divine love, *' so united to human faculties 
that it is itself become a principle of a new 
nature " is the supreme work of God in the 
world.^ 

If it does not seem so to us; if neither in 
ourselves nor in others does the Christian life 
seem anything extraordinary, anything sur- 
passing human effort, and requiring the super- 
natural for its explanation, then it may be 
that we fail to recognize the supernatural 
when we see it at work, because we are looking 
1 Jonathan Edwards. 
203 



MODERN SERMONS 



for the wrong thing; or it may be that in our 
own Christian character and in the Christian 
life abont n^ there is indeed nothing extraor- 
dinary, nothing, or far too little, that cannot 
be well accounted for by the most hnman and 
natural of things, by love of ease, conformity 
to habit and custom, desire for respect and in- 
fluence, in a word, the love of self. Or per- 
hap there is so little freedom and joy in our 
doing of what is right, so little sense of power 
in our conquest of weakness and sin, our 
choice of hsirder instead of easier paths, of 
the good of others ratiier than our own, that 
our virtue seems a painful effort rather than 
an expression of divine power. If so let us 
learn from Paul to wonder more at the power 
of the Spirit of Christ to renew human lives, 
and let us not rest in the effort to follow in 
the steps of our Lord Jesus until we fed His 
love become in us what it was in Paul, what it 
has been in multitudes of lives, a truly un- 
earthly power. 

But tiie Christian life, like the Christian 
confession and the Christian hope, has two 
sides. We have looked at it as a matter of in- 
dividual character; but it is to be regarded 
also as a common character and a united serv- 
ice of the world by the Christian community. 
To this common life and work the Christian 
contributes not only by his possession of the 
characteristic Christian character but also by 
his i>eculiar talents. All Christians have in- 

204 



PORTER 



deed the one and the same Spirit, but the gifts 
of the Spirit are not alike to all. The Spirit 
makes all believers Christian, but it makes 
each one a particular sort of a Christian, 
equipped with a special talent, put in a par- 
ticular place, responsible for a special work. 

Christianity is not in Paul's view a purely 
individual matter; it is a community, an 
organization; and God has in its production 
a plan and an operation for the whole as well 
as a gift of salvation and life for the individ- 
ual soul. Men are not only new creatures in 
Christ, but they are one body in Christ. They 
have gifts differing according to the grace 
given them, of higher and lower honor, but 
equally necessary, equally inspired. Gifts of 
nature are to the religious mind gifts of God. 
And if a man is endowed with the gift to 
teach or to rule, to comfort or to heal, and if 
the Spirit of Christ possess him and heighten 
such natural aptitudes, directing them into 
the service of the Christian community, then 
Paul teaches us to call such a man inspired to 
teach or to rule, to comfort or to heal. Paul 
wiU know of no Christian who is without a 
special capacity to serve the Christian com- 
munity, and he will know no such service how- 
ever simple and lowly which is not divine in 
its character, a supernatural gift. 

How blind we are to the signs of the super- 
natural all about us, when we test our sight by 
the penetrating vision of Paul. Let us rise to 

205 



MODERN SERMONS 



his lofty point of view and not fear or fail 
to see in our gift, however slight by outward 
measurements, in our calling, however incon- 
spicuous, a divine gift and call. 

There are indeed differences of value in the 
divinely given powers of men, but Paul found 
that men were apt to measure their value by 
wrong tests. Showy and striking talents are 
not the best. The best are those that are most 
useful to the community, that contribute most 
to its order, for God does not love confusion, 
and to its upbuilding, for God wills a perfect 
human society. All the forces that work 
against the divisive rivalries and suspicions of 
men toward mutual helpfulness and common 
good Paul teaches us to look upon as divine 
forces, evidences of God in the world. This is 
the work of the one Spirit, which makes every 
man different in order that it may make all 
men one. The test of profit, of use, is to Paul 
only second to the test of love for the discern- 
ing of the presence of God in the world. Sec- 
ond it must indeed remain, for it is only love 
which overcomes antagonism and self-assertion 
and brings the many powers of men into this 
truly wonderful harmony. It is by no acci- 
dent that the thirteenth chapter of First 
Corinthians stands between the twelfth and 
the fourteenth in which the special gifts are 
discussed. It is right to desire the greater of 
the gifts, but there is something greater than 
aU gifts, witiiout which the greatest of them 

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PORTER 



is worthless. Prophecies, tongues, knowledge, 
pass away. Love gives them their worth and 
their power. They were given for the service 
of others, and love is the sonl of all service. 
Love is the Spirit of Christ. The one com- 
mon work of the Spirit is greater than its 
many uncommon works, and remains when 
they pass, supreme, inmiortal, supernatural, 
the greatest thing in the world, the most di- 
vine thing in man. 

If our own special capacity to do a special 
work for the Christian community does not 
seem to us in any degree wonderful or super- 
natural, Paul, I am sure, would teach us to 
look for the supernatural in more common 
and lowly places than is our wont. To see the 
divine in any loving service should not be hard 
for those who have before their eye the gospel 
picture of Jesus, and are accustomed at least 
to profess that in Him divinity was mani- 
fested in a human life. But perhaps Paul also 
would find too little of the divine in our Chris- 
tian service, and would sunmion us to exercise 
the gift we are neglecting until in however 
humble an ofSce its supematuralness shall 
stand revealed. 

We began with the question where we are to 
look for Gk)d, what evidence of the divine the 
world contains. The answer which the great 
Christian prophet, Paul, finds and gives in the 
great word, Spirit, is this : The divine is in 
you, in your confession of Qod as Father and 

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MODERN SERMONS 



of Christ as Lord, in your hope of a perfected 
humanity and of an immortal life with God, 
in your possession of a Christlike love, and in 
the significance of your task in the plan of the 
love of God. Where is the evident presence 
and power of God? It is in Jesus Christ. It 
rfiould be in you. See that it is in you. Do 
not anxiously search for God in the outstand- 
ing retreating darkness of the universe, or in 
happy turns of fortune, or in strange and un- 
explained experiences. Do not look for Him in 
the world as it is. Look for Him in Christ and 
in what is like Christ. Make it true in your- 
selves by likeness to Him that God is manifest 
and at work in the world. 

The New Testament writers are always 
turning our curious questions into practical 
duties. Is God in His world ? Yes, if you will 
have it so, if you will undertake to make it 
so. For each of us the place of God's most 
immediate and demonstrable presence and 
work is our own inner life. There first, since 
if not there it makes little difference where 
else, there we must seek and find God. For 
us as for Paul the best name for the super- 
natural, the divine, is the Spirit of Jesus 
Christ and then the mind and life of those who 
have His spirit. The Christian character and 
life is the thing most divine in the world. If 
it is not so, we are at fault. We must see that 
it is so, and make it so. We should not need 
to look elsewhere for proof of God 

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